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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 48
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 14,702

Journal Archives

Pasco Sheriff's Office letter targets residents for 'increased accountability'

Critics of the agency’s intelligence programs called the letter ‘patronizing’ and ‘offensive,’ and raised continued concerns about civil rights

It starts like an offer of admission from a prestigious university.

“We are pleased to inform you that you have been selected…” it says.

But the four-page letter from the Pasco Sheriff’s Office goes on to tell recipients they will be facing enhanced police scrutiny under the agency’s controversial intelligence program.

“You may wonder why you were enrolled in this program,” the letter continues. “You were selected as a result of an evaluation of your recent criminal behavior using an unbiased, evidence-based risk assessment designed to identify prolific offenders in our community. As a result of this designation, we will go to great efforts to encourage change in your life through enhanced support and increased accountability.”


Welcome to the future.

Florida's unemployment site hacked, exposing personal data on 58,000 claimants

Source: Tampa Bay Times

Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, bank account numbers and claim information might have been exposed.

Hackers targeting Florida’s unemployment website potentially stole the personal data, including Social Security numbers, of nearly 58,000 people.

The Department of Economic Opportunity said Friday that hackers targeted the site, known as CONNECT, between April 27 and July 16 of this year, breaching the personal information of unemployment recipients.

The hackers targeted 57,920 claimant accounts, the department said, and they might have obtained those people’s Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, bank account numbers, claim information and other personal details, such as addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth.

They might also have stolen users’ PIN numbers they use to access their accounts, the department said.

Read more: https://www.tampabay.com/news/florida-politics/2021/07/23/floridas-unemployment-site-hacked-exposing-personal-data-on-58000-claimants/

DeSantis looks to ban mask mandates if schools, feds require them

Source: Tampa Bay Times

The governor made his comments in response to what he said was talk about compulsory masks in schools.

TALLAHASSEE — As Florida schools return to in-person learning next month and COVID-19 cases surge, Gov. Ron DeSantis doubled down on his opposition to mask requirements Thursday, suggesting he would be willing to call a special session of the Legislature to outlaw it if the federal government imposes a mandate or local school districts defy him.

“We look forward to this upcoming year to be a normal school year, be in person, and live like normal and learn like normal kids,” DeSantis said at a news conference at Indian River State College. “There’s been talk about potentially people advocating at the federal level, imposing compulsory masks on kids. We’re not doing that in Florida, okay? We need our kids to breathe. We need our kids to be able to be kids.”

The governor’s remarks immediately drew a rebuke from White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who said the comment “puts kids at risk.”

She acknowledged that the masks are “not the most comfortable thing” but said they are part of the public health guidance. “I will say my kids are quite adjusted to them, as I know many kids are,” Psaki said.

Read more: https://www.tampabay.com/news/florida-politics/2021/07/22/desantis-schools-feds-wont-mandate-masks-if-they-do-hell-have-legislature-ban-them/

Kids can't breathe if they wear masks? Who knew.

I have a hard time figuring out who's the biggest asshole Republican governor -- Abbott or DeSantis.

Republicans Protest Lack of Rioters on January 6th Commission

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Casting a dark cloud over the select committee investigating the January 6th insurrection, congressional Republicans protested, in no uncertain terms, the panel’s “utter lack of rioters.”

Leading the charge was House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who called the commission “little more than a gussied-up festival of anti-riot propaganda.”

“Nancy Pelosi’s handpicked Democratic panel members all have one thing in common: none of them took part in the riot,” McCarthy said. “Without an equal number of rioters on the panel, we’ll never get to hear both sides of this thing.”

McCarthy said that he had drawn up a list of potential rioters to serve on the commission, including the “QAnon Shaman,” Jake Angeli.

“I’ve spoken to the Shaman, and he’s up for it,” McCarthy said. “He just got his fur pelts dry-cleaned.”

The House Minority Leader warned Pelosi against proceeding with the commission if it had no rioter representation. “It could have a chilling effect on all future riots,” he said.


A vertical neighborhood: Floor-by-floor look at the lives lost by Florida condo collapse

A woman in New York spends hours on the phone with her lifelong soul sister in Florida, then bids her goodnight. When she wakes up, televised scenes of a horrific condo collapse include her friend’s penthouse, sheared in half.

A college student flies south with her boyfriend to attend a funeral with extended family. All five vanish. One floor up is a family of four, including two young girls. They fall asleep to the sound of the surf they love so much, never to wake. Just above them lives a couple married a half-century who friends say want to die together one day. They do.

For 40 years, the concrete, steel and glass of Champlain Towers South served as a vertical neighborhood to a wide array of nationalities, religions and ages. It took only 10 seconds for it to become their tomb. Day after day, the personal stories of those who perished unfold. Walk with us floor by floor to meet these residents through words and photographs that train a spotlight on their rich and varied lives.

Penthouse floor

Lawyer Linda March left New York for sunny Surfside after a battle with COVID-19 but was looking to leave her rented condo due to concerns about noise and its foundation; structural engineer and lifelong bachelor Simon “Simoncito” Segal had an easy smile and was always quick with a joke.


The AI we should fear is already here

Alarm over the rise of artificial intelligence tends to focus too much on some distant point in the future, when the world achieves Artificial General Intelligence. That is the moment when — as AI’s boosters dream — machines reach the ability to reason and perform at human or superhuman levels in most activities, including those that involve judgment, creativity and design.

AI detractors have focused on the potential danger to human civilization from a super-intelligence if it were to run amok. Such warnings have been sounded by tech entrepreneurs Bill Gates and Elon Musk, physicist Stephen Hawking and leading AI researcher Stuart Russell.

We should indeed be afraid — not of what AI might become, but of what it is now.

Almost all of the progress in artificial intelligence to date has little to do with the imagined Artificial General Intelligence; instead, it has concentrated on narrow tasks. AI capabilities do not involve anything close to true reasoning. Still, the effects can be pernicious.


Republicans block debate on infrastructure bill, but final deal could solidify within days

Source: Washington Post

Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked debate on a bipartisan infrastructure package of roughly $1 trillion that makes up a major component of President Biden’s economic agenda but has yet to be finalized, dealing a temporary setback as senators scramble to finish the deal by next week.

The vote does not doom the broader effort to invest in the nation’s roads, bridges, pipes, ports and Internet connections, and officials directly involved with the negotiations grew more optimistic by the hour on Wednesday that a broader legislative package could be completed in the coming days.

“In my view, we’ll have the agreement completed over the weekend,” said Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), a key member of the bipartisan group of senators hammering out the deal.

It was clear from the outset that Wednesday’s vote would fail. But Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) pressed ahead, hoping to signal to the bipartisan group that time was not unlimited as Democratic leaders scrambled to placate liberals already impatient with the slow pace of the Senate talks.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/infrastructure-schumer-gop/2021/07/21/0812be02-ea34-11eb-8950-d73b3e93ff7f_story.html

That's Republican bipartisanship for ya.

McConnell says no Republicans will vote to raise debt ceiling

Source: CNN

Republicans will not vote to increase the debt ceiling, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a new interview, putting additional political pressure on Democrats in the coming weeks.

"I can't imagine there will be a single Republican voting to raise the debt ceiling after what we've been experiencing," McConnell said in an interview with Punchbowl News published Wednesday.

Democrats could include the debt ceiling increase in their budget reconciliation bill currently being debated, multiple sources tell CNN. But the more likely scenario is that Democrats could tie the debt ceiling to a must-pass funding bill at the end of September, which would force Republicans to decide if they'd want to vote to default and shut down the government at the same time. The Treasury Department has several methods available to delay the effects of the debt ceiling limit until the fall, as the fiscal year ends on September 30.

If Democrats did include the debt ceiling increase in reconciliation, lawmakers would need to choose what the new borrowing limit should be in the legislation given the special budget rules.

Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/21/politics/mitch-mcconnell-debt-ceiling-republicans-democrats-reconciliation/index.html


Driven by covid deaths, U.S. life expectancy dropped by 1.5 years in 2020

Source: Washington Post

Life expectancy in the United States dropped by a year and a half in 2020 — a continuation of a worrisome decline that was observed in the first half of last year as the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the country, according to federal data released Wednesday.

The decline, which is the largest seen in a single year since World War II, reflects the pandemic’s sustained toll on Americans, particularly the disproportionate impact of covid-19 on communities of color. Black Americans lost 2.9 years of life expectancy while Latinos, who have longer life expectancy than non-Hispanic Blacks or Whites, saw a drop of three years. There was a decrease of 1.2 years among White people.

“It’s horrific,” said Anne Case, a professor emeritus of economics and public affairs at Princeton University. “It’s not entirely unexpected given what we have already seen about mortality rates as the year went on, but that still doesn’t stop it from being just horrific, especially for non-Hispanic Blacks and for Hispanics.”

The provisional data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows that life expectancy at birth — a generally reliable measure of the nation’s health — for the total population declined from 78.8 years in 2019 to 77.3 years in 2020. Almost three-fourths of that decline is attributed to deaths from covid-19, according to the report. The report did not include data for Asian Americans or other racial groups.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/07/21/life-expectancy-covid/

'Conservative Porn Star' Expelled After First Day Of TPUSA Student Event

It started innocently enough.

Testing the Trumpified GOP’s newfound love for freedom of speech, a right-wing porn star planned to attend the conservative youth organization Turning Point USA’s annual Student Action Summit 2021, which began this weekend in Tampa, Florida.

The conservative movement can be a big tent – a tent big enough to contain both Brandi Love, who purchased an “adult VIP ticket,” and groypers, the white supremacist followers of Nick Fuentes.

But things went haywire when Love arrived at the event, as the event’s white nationalist contingent approached her while more mainstream conservative voices fretted over what harms her presence might inflict on children at the event.

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