Sunday, June 5, 2011

Last Call

The way I see it, there's three problems with drug testing all food benefits recipients in Florida:  probable cause, drawing the line at just welfare recipients, and making recipients pay for the testing.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Sunday defended recent legislation that requires adults applying for welfare assistance to undergo drug screenings, saying the law provides "personal accountability."

"It's not right for taxpayer money to be paying for somebody's drug addiction," Scott told CNN's T.J. Holmes on Sunday. "On top of that, this is going to increase personal responsibility, personal accountability. We shouldn't be subsidizing people's addiction."

But the ACLU of Florida, which has already filed suit against Scott over a measure requiring government employees to undergo random drug testing, disagrees, and may sue over the welfare law as well.

"What (Scott) is doing is giving ugly legitimacy to an unfortunate stereotype that has been in this country for a couple of decades -- that all welfare recipients are a bunch of drug abusers," said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida.

Scott told CNN he wants to ensure that welfare funds go to their primary target -- to disadvantaged children -- and provide people with an incentive not to use drugs. He signed the measure on June 1, calling it "the right thing for taxpayers."

Under the law, which takes effect on July 1, the Florida Department of Children and Family Services will be required to conduct the drug tests on adults applying to the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. The aid recipients would be responsible for the cost of the screening, which they would recoup in their assistance if they qualify.

Those who fail the required drug testing may designate another individual to receive the benefits on behalf of their children, and do not receive a refund for the test.

The probable cause issue is unfortunately moot.  The courts have long stipulated that random drug testing of all of a group, such as employees of a company, is permissible.  The third issue too will almost certainly pass muster.  It's the second issue, "where do we draw the line at testing just welfare recipients" that's likely to get Florida in real trouble.

Shortly after the bill was signed, five Democrats from the state's congressional delegation issued a joint statement attacking the legislation, one calling it "downright unconstitutional."

"Governor Scott's new drug testing law is not only an affront to families in need and detrimental to our nation's ongoing economic recovery, it is downright unconstitutional," said Rep. Alcee Hastings. "If Governor Scott wants to drug test recipients of TANF benefits, where does he draw the line? Are families receiving Medicaid, state emergency relief, or educational grants and loans next?"

If the courts side with Florida here, you can expect anyone who receives any sort of government aid or subsidy of any type to be drug tested.  That would, in my mind, include states demanding that any business that receives tax breaks or any subsidy to then drug test all workers, arguing that state dollars should not go to businesses that don't drug test.

But that of course won't happen, as the point of Florida's law is not to drug test people in order to limit drug use, but to make Rick Scott and the Florida medical community craptons of money at taxpayer expense. The last thing Scott and his fellow Republicans want to do is force businesses to drug test.  It's a scam.

Depending on how the courts treat this, we'll see where it goes.  I foresee this going all the way to SCOTUS.

But remember, Republicans want smaller, less intrusive government.  Unless they can clearly profit from it.

Exciting New Horizons In Obama Derangement Syndrome

The UK Daily Mail doesn't seem to like President Obama very much at all.  Small wonder since it's yet another of Rupert Murdoch's mouthpieces...

Still A Weiner After All This Time

Joe Cannon neatly disposes of the latest winger theory that "proves" Rep. Weiner is the culprit.  He used Tweetdeck to post his stuff.  No really, that's the entire argument.

Let's knock this one down quickly, shall we?

I revealed in this blog -- long before the Daily published its "exclusively" provided "data" -- that Weiner used TweetDeck that night. But so what?

The poor schlub writing for the Daily -- his name is Daniel Libit -- doesn't understand that Seixon's entire "TweetDeck" argument was based on the presupposition that the congressman used TweetDeck or some similar app EVERY SINGLE TIME. Thus, he never established a Yfrog account.

Yet even the Daily stipulates that this was not the case.

So there goes the argument. Poof.

Nice try, wingers...but you don't know squat about this one.  Surprising, I know.  The Tweetdeck stuff is entirely irrelevant to the Yfrog security hole. 

TweetDeck automatically establishes a Yfrog account for you. When you try to send a pic, it even flashes a message: "Sending via Yfrog." Don't take my word for it. Download the app for yourself and try it out.

I downloaded TweetDeck and had one of my fictional creations send a pic to another. "Chalice153" had never set up a Yfrog account -- and yet one was set up for her. Here it is. (That's Angela, my model. Pretty, isn't she?) That account was open to the very same exploit which I pointed out in my post.

Seixon, a known Republican operative with a long and irrefutable history of flim-flammery, tried to pretend that this was not the case. Interestingly, he set up his blog to make that argument on the very day when Yfrog plugged its security hole. The plugging made it impossible to prove him wrong via a real-world, real-time test.

Still, I don't think that such a test is necessary. Chalice153 has granted a Yfrog account the moment she sent a picture, even though she did not go to Yfrog's website to set one up. In the days before the security hole was plugged, anyone could have uploaded anything to that account.

So the entire argument is bogus. The Daily has given us techno-babble.

But we've seen the kind of illogical leaps the right will make to preserve their narrative.  Why should facts get in the way of a good old fashioned political smear job to distract people from the real problem?

In A Word: Giggity

PHILADELPHIA – Steve White, editor of the upcoming "Family Guy" comic book, is keenly aware of the franchise's history of drawing laughs and making viewers cringe.
That's why he says the new series, published by Titan Comics and debuting July 27 in comic book shops and on newsstands, will not only uphold the TV tradition of the Emmy-nominated animated show but delve deeper into the characters and comedy of Peter Griffin, his family and friends.
"'The Family Guy' universe is an amazing wellspring of ideas to plunder. It's given us a lot of latitude to develop stories ranging from one-page gag strips to more extended full-length scripts and pretty much everything in between," he told The Associated Press Thursday.
This idea is freaking sweet.  Comics are getting a reboot among younger fans, and if executed properly this can give us even more fun.  I'm all for it, bring on the laughs!

Around And Around We Go

(CNN) -- In the cyber war being fought across international boundaries, the recent Gmail hack of top U.S. and South Korean officials makes one thing clear, analysts say: the bad guys are winning.

"The short answer is our side is losing," says Thomas Parenty, a computer security specialist and former employee at the U.S. National Security Agency. "Defense is much more difficult than offense (against cyber attack); to defend against attack, you need to block all ways in; in offense, you only need one way in."
On Wednesday Google announced that hundreds of Gmail accounts were compromised in a "spear-phishing" assault -- targeted attacks that duped victims into revealing their Gmail passwords through e-mails that pose as people or companies known to end user. Attackers secretly reset settings to copy and forward all e-mails.
The security of an entire network can only be as strong as its weakest user.  That doesn't exactly fill me with hope.  Seriously, at what point will people learn how to avoid these?  Why is it that on the street we are wary and wise, but there is no sense of online stranger danger?  How can total anonymity ever lead to a logical release of personal information?  

Sony was hacked again, and personal information for a million users was compromised.  White House employees were among those targeted by the email hack above, which means anything from gossip to information that would put personal contacts at risk was up for grabs.

Security has advanced beyond the stage of "avoid porn and don't put your password on a sticky note."  Security is a responsibility we all must bear for ourselves, and realize we are not only putting ourselves but everyone we have recorded in our address book at risk.  Imagine what you could do with access to your enemy's best friend.  If you knew their schedule, their loved ones, their upcoming birthdays... it's scary what that can mean in the hands of the wrong people.

Land Of The Rising Core Temperature, Part 32

Meanwhile, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster story has quietly disappeared from the news.  That's unfortunate, because the radiation problem there is worse than ever.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Saturday it has detected radiation of up to 4,000 millisieverts per hour in the building housing the No. 1 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The radiation reading, which was taken when Tepco sent a robot into the No. 1 reactor building on Friday, is believed to be the highest detected in the air at the plant so far.

On Friday, Tepco found steam spewing from the basement into the building's first floor. Nationally televised news Saturday showed blurry video of a steady stream of smoky gas curling up from an opening where a pipe rises through the floor.

OK, so what does "4,000 millisieverts an hour" mean in layman's terms?  How about "well into levels of lethal danger"?

The radiation is so high now that any worker exposed to it would absorb the maximum permissible dose of 250 millisieverts in only about four minutes. Tepco said there is no plan to place workers in that area of the plant and said it will carefully monitor any developments.

The utility said it took the reading near the floor at the southeast corner of the building. The steam appears to be entering from a leaking rubber gasket that is supposed to seal the area where the pipe comes up through the first floor. No damage to the pipe was found, Tepco said.

The reactor's suppression chamber is under the building, and highly radioactive water generated from cooling the reactor is believed to have accumulated there, Tepco said, adding that the steam is probably coming from there.

To recap, 4 Sv is enough to kill you.  That's what's coming out of this section of the plant every hour, enough radiation to kill a person.  Hell, 2 Sv can be fatal, or 30 minutes of exposure here.  Best part?

The fuel rods are believed to have melted almost completely and sunk to the bottom of the containment vessels of reactors 1, 2 and 3.

Not a complete meltdown, but the containment vessels have clearly been breached near reactor 1 and are now leaking deadly amounts of radiation.  They have been leaking since March, people.  It's been almost 3 months now.  If anything, the containment efforts are failing.  This is a serious environmental hazard and will continue to be dangerous for a very long time.

And yet the world continues to ignore the serious plight of Japan right now...and for the most part, continues to ignore the dangers inherent in nuclear power.

Australian For Wingnut

Climate scientists in Australia are getting harassing emails and death threats according to the Canberra Times.

Australia's leading climate change scientists are being targeted by a vicious, unrelenting email campaign that has resulted in police investigations of death threats.

The Australian National University has confirmed it moved several high-profile climate scientists, economists and policy researchers into more secure buildings, following explicit threats to their personal safety.

Scientists at universities in NSW and Queensland have told of being moved to high security buildings, where their names do not appear on staff directory lists or on their office door.

''If you want to find me, it's impossible unless you make an appointment, sign in with some form of photo identification, and are personally escorted to my door,'' one scientist said.

''That's directly as a result of threats made against me.''

More than 30 researchers across Australia ranging from ecologists and environmental policy experts to meteorologists and atmospheric physicists told The Canberra Times they are receiving a stream of abusive emails threatening violence, sexual assault, public smear campaigns and attacks on family members.

Among the scientists being targeted is Australian National University climate institute director Professor Will Steffen.

Others include University of NSW climate change research co-director Professor Andy Pitman and University of Melbourne meteorology professor and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change lead author Professor David Karoly.

Many scientists spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they feared the email attacks would escalate if they were identified. 

Big surprise here, considering the nasty way the wingers treat science in general in the US and Europe.  Any wonder that we're now seeing scientists targeted in Australia as well?
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