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Category Archives: Fiscal Freedom

In apparent U-turn, Trump tweets photo of himself wearing a mask: ‘Many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask’ – MSN Money

Posted: July 21, 2020 at 12:37 pm

Getty Images U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday: I dont agree with the statement that if everyone wears a mask everything disappears. But he appears to be softening his stance on the issue.

President Trumps resolve may be cracking at least when it comes to face masks.

On Monday, Trump tweeted (TWTR)a photo of himself wearing a mask with a presidential seal, writing, Many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you cant socially distance. CNN (T)reported that the presidents falling poll numbers likely played a role in his latest decisions to wear a mask and resume his daily 5 p.m. update on the coronavirus pandemic.

On April 3, the Trump administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed their policies on face masks and said all Americans not, as they previously said, just medical workers should wear cloth face coverings. As of Tuesday, COVID-19 had claimed at least 140,909 lives in the U.S. and infected at least 3.8 million people.

Unlike New York Mayor Bill de Blasios mandate to wear masks in stores, however, the federal governments recommendations are voluntary. Whats more, Trump at the time signaled his resistance to wearing a mask. I dont think Im going to be doing it, he said. Wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens I just dont see it.

During an interview on Fox News on Sunday, journalist Chris Wallace asked Trump if he would introduce a federal mandate to wear face masks in public places where social distancing is not possible. No, I want people to have a certain freedom, Trump replied. I dont agree with the statement that if everyone wears a mask everything disappears.

Asked if he took responsibility for not having a federal policy on coronavirus during the interview, Trump replied, Look, I take responsibility always for everything because its ultimately my job too. I have to get everybody in line. Some governors have done well, some governors have done poorly. We have more testing by fair than any country in the world.

As of Tuesday, COVID-19 had infected 14.7 million people globally. It had killed more than 610,149 people worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins Universitys Center for Systems Science and Engineering. New York, once the epicenter of the virus in the U.S., has still had the most deaths of any state (32,506), followed by New Jersey (15,715) and Massachusetts (8,433).

CityWatch: CDC confirms that coronavirus already spreading in New York City when European travel ban went into effect in March

On Feb 29, the surgeon general tweeted his opposition to the public wearing masks. Seriously people: STOP BUYING MASKS! he wrote. They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #coronavirus, but if health-care providers cant get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk! He reversed course in April.

The public was, understandably, confused. N95 masks appear to be effective for health-care workers. One study says N95 medical-grade masks do help filter viruses that are larger than 0.1 micrometers. (One micrometer, um, is one millionth of a meter.) The coronavirus is 0.125 um. The masks have efficacy at filtering smaller particles and are designed to fit tightly to the face, the study said.

The markets appear torn between optimism on vaccine research and the economic impact of new infection surges, particularly in California, Arizona, Florida and Texas. The Dow Jones Industrial Index (DJIA)closed higher Monday as investors looked toward the prospect of further fiscal stimulus. The S&P 500 (SPX)and Nasdaq Composite (COMP)also ended higher.

Video: Masks or not? Doctors debate best way to get economy back to normal (Fox Business)

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In apparent U-turn, Trump tweets photo of himself wearing a mask: 'Many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask' - MSN Money

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Hong Kong is Freer Than You Think – TIME

Posted: at 11:43 am

On July 14, U.S. president Donald Trump signed an executive order ending Hong Kongs preferred trading status. In it, Trump cited several reasons in support of his decision that are nothing more than political rhetoric and slogans based on twisted facts. In essence, by enacting the Hong Kong National Security Law (NSL), the Chinese Government was said to have violated the Sino-British Joint Declarationthe announcement signifying Hong Kongs handover from British to Chinese sovereignty in 1997as well as the autonomy promised to Hong Kong under that agreement.

There could be nothing further from the truth.

Firstly, the Joint Declaration made no reference to matters of national security, nor did it say which power had the exclusive right to make national security laws. It is an affront to common sense to suggest that the high degree of autonomy granted to Hong Kong should somehow deprive Beijing from legislating for the safety of the whole nation. Article 18 of Hong Kongs constitution, the Basic Law, stipulates that national laws can be applied to Hong Kong by way of promulgation and thus holds open the possibility that there are matters outside the autonomy of Hong Kong. National security is precisely such a matterand it is the responsibility of any federal government, including that of U.S., to legislate on it.

Secondly, the NSL strikes a proper balance between safeguarding the interest of the entire nation and protecting individual rights of people of Hong Kong under the one country, two systems political formula.

Article 4 of the NSL confirms that the two most respected international conventions on human rights, and other similar safeguards in the Basic Law, will continue to apply.

Article 5 further confirms that the rule of Law will also continue to apply.

Most significantly, Article 40 stipulates that Hong Kong will have jurisdiction over all cases under the NSL save those rare situations covered by Article 55which, essentially, are cases in which China is facing a major and imminent threat to national security, where there is foreign involvement, or when the Hong Kong government is unable to govern.

These clear provisions suggest that the central government is showing considerable respect for the special situation in Hong Kong.

In the vast majority of cases, the main responsibility for the enforcement, application and adjudication of the NSL will lie with Hong Kong enforcement agencies and courts. Thus, any suggestion that that the NSL will not be properly appliedor applied in such a way as to be in breach of human rights standards or the rule of lawis a serious accusation totally without basis or evidence against the integrity of our enforcement agencies and judges.

In any event, let us not forget human rights and freedoms are not without limits. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which applies to Hong Kong, says very clearly that every right and freedom enshrined therein is subject to legal restraint by reason of national security. This is a universal standard, understood even in the U.S.

Lastly, it is worse than superficial to think Hong Kongs high degree of autonomy is just about freedom of speech or expression. The autonomy of Hong Kong is about our ability to maintain our own financial, economic, and legal systemsand having our own independent judicial, currency, fiscal, logistics, international flight management, land, health care and social welfare systems. Its about having our own economic, trading, cultural and sports status internationally, not to mention our own electoral system, our own independent right to carry out political reform, and more as defined in the Basic Law.

Even as regards the freedom of speech and expression, any visitor in recent days will testify that after the passing of NSL nothing much has changed. People and the press continue to vilify the SAR and central government in Beijing if they want to without repression. Media that are leaving are doing so of their own accord, not because they have been expelled. Those who want to come or leave are free to come or leave. There have been no mass arrests and no exodus. These facts speak for themselves. And they all show that Hong Kong is freer than you think. Today and tomorrow.

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Contact us at editors@time.com.

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Death and Your Federal Government – AAF – American Action Forum

Posted: at 11:42 am

Eakinomics:Death and Your Federal Government

Eakinomics apologizes for its recent obsession withdeath, but Ive been in search of topics cheerier than the pandemic, Congress, or the administration. The occasion for todays observations is Gordon Grays superbpieceon Numident and the Death Master File (DMF), a piece that was, in turn, prompted by the fact that Treasury recently sent on the order of 1 million checks, totaling about $1.4 billion, to dead people. This is actually a pretty low error rate since there were roughly 160 million checks sent out, but it did raise the question: How was Treasury supposed to knowwho had died?

As it turns out, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is the chief curator of death records in the federal government with the obvious goal of ceasing payment of Social Security benefits upon death. According to Gray, the SSA maintains a master registry containing identifying information of all holders of assigned Social Security numbers, known as the Numerical Index File, or Numident. When an individual dies, that fact is denoted in their Numident record with a date of death and a death indicator to facilitate a stoppage in paid benefits. It obtains data largely from states (as well as funeral homes, families, etc.).

Sounds like a plan. Unfortunately, over time state data increasingly has come in the from the state-based Electronic Death Registration System (EDRS), and the Social Security Act prohibits sharing data obtained from the states with benefit-paying agencies. This prohibition presumably would halt the flow of the death data across the government except for the fact that in 1978 a Federal Postal Service official realized that the Service might be spending millions on pension benefits to deceased postal workers.He sued the SSA for access to the death data under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), under the logic that dead people did not have privacy protection under FOIA.

The suit was never decided; instead SSA agreed to a consent decree that remains in place to this day. Under the decree, the SSA produces a subset of the Numident that strips out the state-supplied data and is shared with other agencies. This subset goes by the nifty name of Death Master File. Among the agencies restricted to using the DMF instead of the full Numident is the Treasury Bureau of the Fiscal Service, which sent the checks. As Gray notes, Beginning with the 4thbatch of payments, the IRS did provide the Bureau of the Fiscal Service with temporary access to the full death file until the IRS was able to set up its own internal process for doing so thereafter.

In short, there was a patch on the system for purposes of sending the checks, but the larger information-sharing challenge remains.

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Death and Your Federal Government - AAF - American Action Forum

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Trump tweets photo of himself wearing a mask in apparent U-turn: Many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask – MarketWatch

Posted: at 11:42 am

President Trumps resolve may be cracking at least when it comes to face masks.

On Monday, Trump tweeted TWTR, +0.48% a photo of himself wearing a mask with a presidential seal, writing, Many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you cant socially distance. CNN T, +1.74% reported that the presidents falling poll numbers likely played a role in his latest decisions to wear a mask and resume his daily 5 p.m. update on the coronavirus pandemic.

On April 3, the Trump administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed their policies on face masks and said all Americans not, as they previously said, just medical workers should wear cloth face coverings. As of Tuesday, COVID-19 had claimed at least 140,909 lives in the U.S. and infected at least 3.8 million people.

Unlike New York Mayor Bill de Blasios mandate to wear masks in stores, however, the federal governments recommendations are voluntary. Whats more, Trump at the time signaled his resistance to wearing a mask. I dont think Im going to be doing it, he said. Wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens I just dont see it.

During an interview on Fox News on Sunday, journalist Chris Wallace asked Trump if he would introduce a federal mandate to wear face masks in public places where social distancing is not possible. No, I want people to have a certain freedom, Trump replied. I dont agree with the statement that if everyone wears a mask everything disappears.

Asked if he took responsibility for not having a federal policy on coronavirus during the interview, Trump replied, Look, I take responsibility always for everything because its ultimately my job too. I have to get everybody in line. Some governors have done well, some governors have done poorly. We have more testing by fair than any country in the world.

As of Tuesday, COVID-19 had infected 14.7 million people globally. It had killed more than 610,149 people worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins Universitys Center for Systems Science and Engineering. New York, once the epicenter of the virus in the U.S., has still had the most deaths of any state (32,506), followed by New Jersey (15,715) and Massachusetts (8,433).

CityWatch:CDC confirms that coronavirus already spreading in New York City when European travel ban went into effect in March

On Feb 29, the surgeon general tweeted his opposition to the public wearing masks. Seriously people: STOP BUYING MASKS! he wrote. They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #coronavirus, but if health-care providers cant get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk! He reversed course in April.

The public was, understandably, confused. N95 masks appear to be effective for health-care workers. One study says N95 medical-grade masks do help filter viruses that are larger than 0.1 micrometers. (One micrometer, um, is one millionth of a meter.) The coronavirus is 0.125 um. The masks have efficacy at filtering smaller particles and are designed to fit tightly to the face, the study said.

The markets appear torn between optimism on vaccine research and the economic impact of new infection surges, particularly in California, Arizona, Florida and Texas. The Dow Jones Industrial Index DJIA, +1.14% closed higher Monday as investors looked toward the prospect of further fiscal stimulus. The S&P 500 SPX, +0.57% and Nasdaq Composite COMP, -0.35% also ended higher.

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Trump tweets photo of himself wearing a mask in apparent U-turn: Many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask - MarketWatch

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PFC awards: don’t wing it – BR Research – Business Recorder

Posted: at 11:42 am

In last weeks coverage on Provincial Finance Commission (PFC) awards, it was argued that if the PTI is really serious about the PFC, it should draft a bill with wider political consultation to address the constitutional gaps on local government and its finances.

It was also argued that the bill should emulate the likes of Indian or Nepalese Constitution that has specific articles on constitution, composition, duration, powers, and responsibilities of municipalities including power to impose taxes; and the executive powers of local government in addition to specific provisions related to mayor and deputy mayor of municipalities, term of office of village/municipal assembly, and so forth. (See BR Researchs Provincial finance omission published 16, Jul 2020)

In addition to these, there are at least two other aspects that need to be addressed to make PFCs effective in Pakistan. The first of these revolves around the subject of taxation. That provinces have not devolved property taxes (arguably the biggest source of own revenues at the disposal of local governments) to the local level doesnt speak well of the provincial political leadership. This issue cannot be over emphasized.

In cases where some taxes have been devolved to the third tier, local government laws allow provincial governments to regulate taxes and fees imposed by the third tier, which raises questions over the fiscal freedom of local government. Local governments also do not have complete autonomy to raise revenues and to make expenditure unless previously authorised by the provincial governments.

The issue of adequate representation of local government at the PFC also needs to be addressed. In all the four provinces, the composition of the PFCs as per respective local government laws is such that provincial representation in the PFC is much higher than the representation of local government.

It is understandable that most local government officials lack capacity to meaningfully contribute to such commissions, and that it is difficult to have representation of all the districts in each province. However, it is equally true that capacity issues can be addressed by secondments of finance staff from provincial government or technical representatives appointed by local government itself, whereas the issue of numerous districts could be resolved by creating a system of nominated representatives from various sub-tiers of local government.

Here one could take a cue from New Zealand and South Africa (and even India until of late) where local council associations are recognised by the law and given due representation at forums like the PFC. The issue of inadequate representation at PFC should not be taken lightly because participation and political representation is what third tier is all about. Will the PTI address these long pending concerns or will it simply wing it? Most observers already know the answer, but to give a benefit of the doubt, best wait and see.

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Remember These Headlines? – Highlands Current

Posted: July 5, 2020 at 9:43 am

Or maybe you were there

A Creative Dry Spell Led to Her Tamales Cold Spring Village Board Passes Law Allowing Composting Toilets at Parks Understanding Donald Lusk Michael Bakker Wins Cold Spring Triathalon The Sad Demise of the Once Proud Word Awesome Cold Spring Board Meetings to be Televised Three World War II Veterans Receive French Medal and Gratitude at Waterfront Ceremony Impeach Obama Effort by LaRouche Group Draws Support, Debate, Near Foodtown Plaza Leo the Cat Has Been Found Cold Springs Radio Station Serradas, Hustis Attack Mayor and Special Board Funding Guy Fawkes Element Dropped from Boscobels Bonfire Night John Adams Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom Cold Spring Foresees Ending Fiscal Year with About $40,000 Extra Village Board Approves Dark Skies Lighting for Waterfront Vincent Leibell Will Not Take Office as Putnam County Executive

Another Great Listening Room Lineup at Philipstown.info Rescue on Breakneck Ridge Rezoning Brings Praise, Even from Former Critics, and Scattered Complaints Draft Law to Ban Weapons from Town Property Draws Immediate Salvo from NRA Lawyer PhilipsTalk with Richard Shea Nelsonville to Hold Rare Event: A Contested Election Will Route 9 Traffic Light Finally Become a Reality? Dancing Boys Likely to Tear the House Down at Grease New Sand for Tots Park Sandbox NRC Declares Indian Point Safe Dr. Peter Gergely and Stacy Labriola Join Phil Donahue as Desmond-Fish Honorees Worlds End Theater Debuts with The Seagull Hockey Coming to Haldane? Village Board Skeptically Weighs Idea of New Firehouse at Butterfield Site Chapel Restoration First to Invite Local Same-Sex Weddings Split Village Board Scuttles Bid to Allow Higher Fences Philipstown.info to Host First Candidate Forum at Haldane Fracking with Our Future Philipstown Man and Companion Accused of Selling Heroin Continental Village Residents Seek Help with Lakeland School Taxes Haldane Girls Varsity Volleyball Team Brings Home Gold Residents Tell EPA, Village Board of Ongoing Worries over Marathon Site

Issue 1

Pop Warner Football Wants to Install Lights at Mayors Park Online Petition Urges Repeal of Mayors Salary Hike Mayor Faces Marion Avenue Wrath Mining Returns to Philipstown? Cold Spring Board Introduces Global Warming Pledge Villanti Proposes Improvements to Haldane Football Field Dunkin Donuts Study Predicts No Traffic Problems Butterfield Committee Walks Site and Ponders Cold Spring Says No to Fast Food Cleanup Follows Hurricane Sandy Through Philipstown Scuccimarra Defeats Rosario Gallagher Says Hes Done with Mayors Job

Putnam Clerk Says No to Gun-Info Request Residents Ponder Local Solutions to Address Climate Change Rector Sounds Alarm on Church Finances Post Office at Butterfield or No Place, Warns Mayor Town and Village Ban Firearms Route 9 Biker Assault at Former Hardware Store Charge Against Mazzuca Draws Surprise and Support DEC Coal Tar Cleanup Question Looms Over Cold Spring Boat Club Little Enthusiasm Locally for School Consolidation Concept of Linking Cold Spring and Beacon with Fjord Trail Advances Mystery Point Sold to Billionaire Philanthropist Our Lady of Loretto Says Goodbye to Fr. McSweeney DA Sues Sheriff for $5 Million Constitution Island Education Center Proposed for Main Street Ailes and Shea Discuss New Senior Center at American Legion Post Manhunt for Suspected Murderer Unnerves Cold Spring Towne Crier Cafe Re-opens in Beacon Handels Messiah Comes to Cold Spring Plumbush School Approved by Town Planning Board Public Officials React to Train Tragedy

Issue 100

Maloney and Florke Announce Wedding Plans Weekend Residential Village Proposed for Philipstown Diagonal Parking Proposed for Main Street Bowman and Fadde Running as Team Trustee Hawkins Receives Legal Threats Library Turns a Page with New Director Jen McCreery Shea Seeks Public Input into Cell Tower Decision Emotional Haldane Budget Forum Outlines Program Cuts Butterfield Zoning Approved President Delivers West Point Commencement Address Philipstown.Info Becomes Charitable Organization Lost Hikers Pose a Challenge Maloney Retains Seat in a Republican Year Haldanes Girls Soccer Wins First State Championship Gordon Stewart, Our Founder, Dies

Many Car Tires Cut at Metro-North Parking Lot Beacon Pool to Reopen to General Public Concept of Garrison Fire District Prompts Debate at Town Board Town Board Urges Action to Prevent Bomb Train Accidents on Hudson State Testing a Divisive Issue in Local Schools This Romeo and Juliet Has a Very Happy Ending State Police Say Kayaker a Killer Pataki Declares for Presidency Beacon 3D Sculptures Transform Main Street Beacon Reviews Merging Fire Houses Groundbreaking Day at Butterfield Site Town Board Votes to Pave Part of South Mountain Pass Six Alternatives to Breakneck The Beacon Theatre Sold Made in Philipstown Strikes a Chord Santos Family Ready to Rebuild Merchants Happy to See Seastreak Visitors Beacon Will See More Hotel Rooms

Issue 200

First Parking Meter for Cold Spring Beacon School Leaders Under Fire Questions Raised About Putnam Tourism Office Parking Woes as Beacon Grows Our Town Attracts Plenty of Local Characters New Senior Center Will Be Named for Ailes Beacon and Fishkill Discuss Sharing Police Challengers Prevail in Beacon School Race Pastor Spots Intruder on Doggie-Cam Three Thousand Hikers Storm Breakneck Late-Night Motion Stirs Protest at Beacon School Board Coast Guard Proposes More Barge Parking Areas Ailes Pulls Funds for Senior Citizen Center Hello (Again) Dolly! Modern Art Space to Open in Philipstown in 2017 Feds to Beacon Police: You Are Free to Go Beacon Historical Society Finds New, Larger Home Garrison Fire Company Spending Jumps 27 Percent Antidote Saves Two Heroin Users on Same Day Neighbors to Ask State to Close Indian Brook Falls Butterfield Developer Wants $2.5 Million from Village

Beacon Boys Must Forfeit Wins GE on Hudson River Cleanup: Were Done New Superintendent in Beacon Tourism Board Chair Charged with $10 Theft Major Crime in Beacon Falls to Five-Year Low Rev. Geer to Retire from St. Philips Cold Spring Mayors Race Too Close to Call 300-Plus Unit Development Proposed for Beacon Train Station Area Philipstown Forbids Aiding Immigration Arrests Philipstown, Cold Spring Merge Building Departments Putnam Sheriff Settles Defamation Case Village Raises Concern About Herbicide Craig House Sale Pending Airbnb Bookings Jump 75 Percent in Philipstown Nelsonville Residents Object to Cell Tower Plan Beacon on Board for Skate Park Too Many Visitors, or Not Enough? Beacon Adopts Building Freeze Langley is New Putnam Sheriff

Issue 300

Development in Beacon: What Next? Local Dreamers Fight to Stay Are Schools Safe Enough? Cell-Tower Company, Verizon Sue Philipstown Philipstown Names Anti-Drug Coordinator Students Protest Gun Violence Philipstown Enacts Safe-Storage Gun Law Beacon Police Add Body Cameras Jean Marzollo, Childrens Book Author, Dies at 75 Sign Lands Beacon Man in Court Assemblyman Skartados Dies at 62 Rise in Vaping Causes Alarm Beacon Solar Farm Ready to Shine Little Stony Point Gets a Facelift Goose Problem Continues at Mayors Park Grannies Head to the Border Beacon to Consider Municipal IDs Beacon Schools Taking Steps to Diversify Staff Beacon Launches Free Bus Loop Tires Dumped Into Indian Brook Silver Spoon May Become Hotel For Sale: Beacon Prison Montgomery Take District 1 Seat Beacon Council Reconsiders Pinball Ban

Don Nice, Painter of the Everyday, Dies at 86 Beacon Mayor Has Challenger Anti-Abortion Draft Ignites Debate at Putnam Legislature Challengers Sweep in Nelsonville Could Parking Meters Come to Beacon? Does Cold Spring Need Another Traffic Light? New Nelsonville Mayor Says He Will Resign Judge Reitz Dies at 57 Putnam Passes Secrecy Law Maloney Says He Would Vote for Impeachment, But Prefers Ballots For Some, Vaccination Law Stings Huge Fishkill Development Looms Over Beacon Trolley Struggles to Get on Track Putnam Visitors Bureau Disappears Beacon to Add Three Firefighters Mental-Health Hub Opens in Cold Spring Haldane Coach Arrested Beacon Has New Mayor; Philipstown, New Clerk Three-Story Limit on Main? Former Cold Spring Trustee Arrested by FBI

Issue 400

Putnam Sheriff Releases Three Defendants Under Bail Law ZBA Rules Against Rock-Crushing Firm Whistling Willies Closes Its Doors Nelsonville Approves Cell-Tower Settlement Putnam Settles Hossu Case for $750,000 Route 9 Firm Sues Philipstown for $50 Million Coronavirus on the Move Breakneck Burns Students and Teachers Adjust to New Plan Open Space Institute Buys Breakneck Chalet Beacon Prison Virus Cases Highest in State Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival Cancels 2020 Season

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Peril of face recognition tech: Facing the end of freedom, one face at a time. Supreme Court must intervene – Times of India

Posted: at 9:43 am

By Mishi Choudhary and Eben Moglen

On June 9, IBM through a letter by its CEO Arvind Krishna announced that its exiting the facial recognition technology business altogether and wouldnt condone use of any technology used for mass surveillance and racial profiling that violate basic human rights and freedoms. This started a positive trend amongst technology companies. Microsoft president Brad Smith confirmed on June 11 that Microsoft wont sell to US police its facial recognition tech either. Amazon also announced a one-year moratorium on selling law enforcement agencies access to Rekognition, its notorious facial recognition technology.

Timnit Gebru, a leader of Googles ethical AI team, explained why she thinks facial recognition is too dangerous to be used right now for law enforcement purposes highlighting the disparity in error rates, especially that detection technology does not work for darker skin. Let that sink in for us in India, where not all of us are Fair and Lovely and face colourism everyday because of our dark skin.

For several years, activists have been crying hoarse about the abuse of these technologies. However, on March 11, the Indian government casually announced the full adoption of facial recognition technology enabled surveillance. We were told that using photographic and other information from government databases, 1,100 individual participants in the Delhi riots had been identified. The number was later raised to 1,900. The software, we are told doesnt see clothes, only faces an apparent attempt to deny that the technology used to identify individual rioters today could be used to identify any individual tomorrow.

Whether UIDAIs Aadhaar database was among the government data stores to which this announcement referred has been the subject of conflicting statements. NatGrid hasnt been specifically mentioned. It hardly matters. The government has actually announced its determination to use its data assets to put a face on every action to which the government objects.

As weve previously written, other advanced democracies have been slowing down or stopping altogether uses of facial recognition in the public sphere. Theyre aware of the enormous harm that can be done by governmental abuse of the technology of automated facial recognition. From a moratorium in the EU to outright prohibitions by California municipalities, the current trend demonstrates a sudden, sharp recognition that a government able to identify every face in public everywhere all the time can extinguish freedom at a blow. This has been aided by the demonstration project in technological totalitarianism staged by the Chinese Communist Party in Xinjiang.

But here in India, we seem to be not only travelling at top speed in the other direction, the actions are indicating that rule of law is no more than a small bump in the road on our way. What such a use of facial recognition technology tells us is that government intends to flout both the provisions of the Aadhaar Act and the Supreme Courts Puttaswamy judgment upholding our fundamental constitutional right of privacy.

Its laudable for government to protect public order, to identify and prosecute criminals. A responsible government would seek present judicial authority for the novel use of privacy invading technologies, and would introduce legislation to formalise the processes of judicial review in future. A government which instead uses the occasion of public disorder to introduce such measures by executive fiat can only be suspected of taking advantage of events to subvert the Constitution it, and its police, are sworn to protect.

But now, the Covid-19 epidemic is being used as another legitimate justification for further tracking of public movements and interactions throughout society, with government taking another advantage of circumstances to extend its unaccountable use of this technology. Everyones justified fear of the spread of disease is being used by a government to travel faster and further down the road to totalitarian process, beneath the veneer of a democracy protecting itself in a time of crisis. The ineffective, botched job with the Aarogya Setu app speaks precisely to this.

Where government reads every face, political dissent is under permanent intimidation. We cannot live our lives outside the range of others cameras anymore. Wherever we go and whatever we do in the public sphere we can expect our image to be recorded without our knowledge or consent. Equally as Aadhaar has escaped its original role in the protection of public subsidies against theft and fraud and become the universal link tying all chains of personal data together we can expect our data shadow to follow us through every fiscal and administrative transaction. If government is allowed to put these two pieces together by searching available images, in its own databases and social media collections and tying them to Aadhaar-linked databases of personal information it has total information awareness.

Unless this awareness is subjected to judicial review when it is used, and there is subsequent judicial oversight to prevent abuse, our lives are no longer our own. The present government predicts let us not say assumes that the SC is too busy or too supine to impose the Constitution on the governments will, rather than the other way around. Immediate intervention by the SC on the basis of petitions brought by advocates for constitutional privacy is necessary.

The disease is not our only fear. Unless we are vigilant now, even as we are put under so much additional strain by the pandemic and its human consequences, we shall live also through the death of freedom.

Mishi Choudhary is legal director of Software Freedom Law Centre, New York. Eben Moglen is Professor of Law and Legal History at Columbia Law School

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Navy Will Mothball Its First Four Littoral Combat Ships In Nine Months If Congress Lets It – The Drive

Posted: at 9:43 am

The U.S. Navy expects the first four of its perpetually underperforming Littoral Combat Ships, a pair of ships from each of the two subclasses, to be out of service within the next nine months. Some members of Congress, however, are now seeking to block the mothballing of two of these vessels until all of the tests of the various and continually delayed mission modules for each variant are complete, which is still years away from happening.

The Navy provided the update on its plans to inactivate these Littoral Combat Ships in an official internal message dated June 20, 2020, which Defense Newswas first to report. The missive says that USS Freedom and USS Independence, both of which are the first ships in their subclasses, along with the Freedom class USS Fort Worth and Independence class USS Coronado, are set to be "Out of Commission, In Reserve," or OCIR, by March 2021.

The Navy first revealed its plans to retire these four LCSs, also known by their hull numbers, LCS 1 through LCS 4, in its budget request for the 2021 Fiscal Year, which it released in February 2020. The service had previously planned to assign these ships to a new surface warfare development unit, Surface Development Squadron One, where they would have joined the three Zumwalt class stealth destroyers, the last of which is still under construction, and the Sea Hunter unmanned surface vessel.

It was an unprecedented admission that the Navy did not feel that these vessels were even worth keeping around in a primarily test and evaluation role and as the seagoing force continues to struggle to find a pathway to reaching its long-standing goal of a total fleet size of 355 ships. These first four littoral combat ships were commissioned between 2008 and 2014, making them all relatively young vessels. However, the reflected early iterations of their respective designs and had already been relegated to test and training roles for years.

Those four test ships were instrumental to wringing out the crewing, the maintenance and all the other things we needed to learn from them, Navy Rear Admiral Randy Crites, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Budget, said a press briefing for the 2021 Fiscal Year budget request in February. But theyre not configured like the other LCS in the fleet, and they need significant upgrades. Everything from combat [systems], to structural, you name it. Theyre expensive to upgrade.

It's worth noting that the Navy does not appear to have ever publicly disclosed what it would cost to fully upgrade these four LCSs. The fact that these initial examples differ so significantly from later models is also a product of a process called concurrency, wherein the production of the ships began with the understanding that modifications and fixes would get inserted throughout the process. This was supposed to help reduce costs by allowing for construction to ramp up quicker than normal, but the amount of reworking necessary proved to be more extensive than initially expected.

The Navy is still continuing to take deliveries of new LCSs. Just this week, it accepted the delivery of the future USS Oakland, an Independence class vessel, which the service touted as being on track to bring its total fleet to 300 ships. It's not clear how long that milestone might last amid the planned retirements of the first four LCSs and other ships.

The Navy is also working to make the three different mission modules fully operational. There are presently three different packages, a mine countermeasures one, one focused on anti-submarine warfare, and another that provides additional anti-surface warfare capabilities.

The original plan had been that these modular packages would allow for the relatively rapid reconfiguration of individual LCSs from one mission set to another, making the multi-mission capable without having to lug around all of the different weapons and other relevant systems at once. This was a core component of the LCS program.

The Navy has since decided that this is not necessarily a viable operational model and it plans to effectively permanently mount certain modules on various ships in both subclasses, which will make them significantly less flexible. The service has begun creating new dedicated Mine Divisions within Littoral Combat Ship Squadrons in recent years, reflecting this change in the concept of operations.

Still, the capabilities the LCSs offer, even with the various mission modules installed, have long been underwhelming. There is an effort underway now to add launchers for the RGM-148A Naval Strike Missile (NSM) to at least some of the ships, giving them a sorely needed boost in firepower.

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Navy Will Mothball Its First Four Littoral Combat Ships In Nine Months If Congress Lets It - The Drive

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West Virginia Week in Review – July 4, 2020 – West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources

Posted: at 9:43 am

On Wednesday, Gov. Jim Justice announced that, despite the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the economy, he and his administration have delivered another historic revenue surplus in West Virginia for Fiscal Year 2020.

That, in itself, may be the biggest accomplishment that weve ever pulled off, Gov. Justice said. For us to run across the finish line with a surplus, in the year of the God-awfullest pandemic of our lifetimes, its an absolute miracle.

After setting the all-time state record for revenue growth in the previous fiscal year, those surpluses were built into initial budget estimates for FY2020.

We were tracking right along with our best numbers ever and then, all of a sudden, this pandemic hit, Gov. Justice said. By April, I was told by our revenue experts that we were going to be $525 million short.

Of course, I never really fell into that because I knew that West Virginia really never shut down completely, Gov. Justice continued. All of the sudden, the numbers started looking a little bit better and better.

Working alongside state revenue experts to utilize money from reserve accounts, and with the federal governments move to raise the reimbursement rate on Medicaid, Gov. Justice and his administration were able to turn a shortfall of $255.8 million into another historic surplus for West Virginia, with the reserve funds used being replenished.

Today, Gov. Jim Justice released a video message wishing a Happy Independence Dayto all West Virginians.

Cathy and I want to wish you an absolutely terrific Fourth. We hope that youre going to go out and enjoy this beautiful state in some way or another. Please visit one of our State Parks and enjoy time with your family. What an incredible holiday this is our nations birthday. The day that so many gave so much so that we could have what we have right here in this incredible country our freedom."

Earlier in the week,Gov. Justice also warned West Virginians against participating in risky behavior during their holiday celebrations.

The Governor urged residents to wear a mask whenever in groups and warned high-risk individuals to avoid large crowds as much as possible. Gov. Justice is also recommending that those traveling out-of-state self-monitor and get tested upon returning to West Virginia.

With a resurgence of COVID-19 cases being seen in other states across the country in recent days, Gov. Justice urged all West Virginians on Thursday to remain on high alert and to be prepared for additional safety measures to be put in place to safeguard residents.

If, God forbid, this virus comes back at us, we need to be able to stop it, and one of the ways we can stop it is by wearing masks, Gov. Justice continued. And so, I want everyone to know that I am very, very seriously considering that, at the beginning of next week, we may very well have to go to mandatory masks inside buildings, other than your homes, where you are not able to social distance."

Gov. Justice added that he will consult with state health experts and members of his administration, looking at additional case numbers over the weekend before making a final decision. The Governor urged residents to wear a mask whenever in groups and warned high-risk individuals to avoid large crowds as much as possible. Gov. Justice is also recommending that those traveling out-of-state self-monitor and get tested upon returning to West Virginia.

An investigation, ordered by Gov. Justice last week after the number of active COVID-19 cases in Randolph County were found to be much lower than shown on the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources COVID-19 dashboard, has found that the DHHR electronic case surveillance system was not updated with recovered case data from the local health departments and that DHHR did not follow up with local health departments to routinely verify recovered cases of COVID-19.

Recovered cases are determined by the local health departments as they follow individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19.

The error in the numbers of recovered individuals on the COVID-19 dashboard was discovered by the West Virginia National Guard which contacted the Randolph County Health Department to verify the numbers. These cases, which had not been entered into the electronic case surveillance system as recovered, were cases from the Huttonsville Correctional Facility outbreak several weeks ago.

This week, DHHRs Office of Epidemiology and Prevention Services and the West Virginia National Guard contacted each local health department to verify the numbers and have compared them to those in the electronic case surveillance system which is updated to the COVID-19 dashboard.

Gov. Justice reminded West Virginians that another round of reopenings officially went into effect Wednesday as part of the Governors West Virginia Strong The Comeback plan to restart the states economy.

Provided that all safety guidelines are being properly followed, approved activity reopenings on Wednesday, July 1, include:

Click here to view safety guidelines

As part of Gov. Justices initiative to increase COVID-19 testing opportunities, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources announced locations for testing on July 10 and 11, 2020. Free COVID-19 testing will be held in Marshall, Mercer, Monongalia, Preston, and Wayne counties with support from local health departments and state and community partners at the following times and locations. Marshall County July 10, 9:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m. McMechen City Hall 325 Logan Street McMechen, WV July 11, 9:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m. Marshall County Health Department 513 6th Street Moundsville, WV Mercer County July 11, 9:30 a.m. 4:00 p.m. Mercer County Health Department 978 Blue Prince Road Bluefield, WV Monongalia County July 10, 9:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m. Morgantown Farmers Market (Downtown) 400 Spruce Street Morgantown, WV July 11, 9:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m. 661 Green Bag Road Morgantown, WV Preston County July 10 and 11, 9:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m. Kingwood Elementary School 207 S. Price Street Kingwood, WV Wayne County July 10, 10:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m. Dunlow Community Center 1475 Left Fork Dunlow Bypass Road Dunlow, WV July 11, 10:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m. Wayne Elementary School 80 McGinnis Drive Wayne, WV Attendees should bring identification, such as a drivers license or proof of address, to help in returning test results. Those under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. The testing is free and available to all residents in selected counties, including asymptomatic individuals.

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West Virginia Week in Review - July 4, 2020 - West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources

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Higher gas taxes, other tax increases to greet Virginians on Wednesday – The Center Square

Posted: at 9:43 am

(The Center Square) Several Virginia tax increaseswill go into effect Wednesday after the Democrat-controlled General Assembly passed them in the previous legislative session.

Tax hikes to start the new fiscal year include a higher gasoline and diesel fuel tax, a higher cigarette tax and a tax on games of skill machines. Counties also will have more freedom to implement higher taxes on their residents because of legislation that eased state restrictions.

The statewide tax on gasoline will increase from 16.2 cents per gallon to 21.2 cents per gallon, which is a 31 percent increase before regional gas taxes are accounted for. The regional tax along the I-81 corridor, northern Virginia and Hampton Roads will now be a statewide tax. With this inclusion, taxes will increase to 28.8 cents per gallon, which is a 21 percent increase in areas that had the regional tax and a 78 percent increase in the areas that did not.

The fuel tax hikes will have the greatest economic impact, removing dollars from both family and business budgets that might be spent somewhere else, Stephen Haner, a senior fellow of state and local tax policy at the free-market Thomas Jefferson Institute, told The Center Square. And, of course, the fuel taxes go up again next summer, and then every summer after that. In parts of Virginia, it goes up almost 13 cents per gallon [Wednesday] with another 5 cent increase next year.

The cigarette tax will increase 100 percent Wednesday, from $3 to $6 per carton. The tax on other tobacco products, such as snuff and pipe tobacco, also will increase by 100 percent, from a 10 percent tax to a 20 percent tax. The commonwealth also will impose a new6.6 cents per milliliter tax on liquid nicotine products used for vaping.

Although lawmakers initially sought to ban gambling skill machines earlier in the session, they decided to instead impose a $1,200 monthly tax on businesses that use the machines. The shift was designed to help raise additional state revenue amid COVID-19 losses.

County governments will have more freedom Wednesday to implement taxes, which will bring their authority closer to that of cities. County governments will be allowed to impose a meal tax up to 6 percent and begin to impose local taxes on admission to concerts, movies and other types of amusement.

The ability of so many Virginia counties to now impose a meals tax would normally come second in terms of impact on individuals, and given their revenue problems, the counties probably love to do that now, Haner said. But with their restaurants struggling so badly, such a move now would be insane.

Several new gun laws, including expanded background checks, red-flag laws and a limit to purchasing one handgun per month all go into effect Wednesday. The background check legislation and the one-handgun-per-month legislation are both facing a legal challenge.

Virginians no longer will need photo identification to vote, but still will need to provide documentation that shows their name and address.

Also as of Wednesday, a person found with only one ounce of marijuana now will face only a $25 civil penalty.

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Higher gas taxes, other tax increases to greet Virginians on Wednesday - The Center Square

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