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Saturday, 09 May 2020 08:17

Big Google Is Watching Your Children

Schools remain shuttered across the country, 30 million Americans are out of work, and food banks are running low, but the edutech sector is booming. Silicon Valley companies are feasting on an exploding client base of quarantined students held hostage to "online learning." Big Google is leading the way -- and that is not OK.

               

Unsuspecting parents cheering all the software and hardware donations during the pandemic shutdown have no idea the privacy price their children are paying. This isn't charity. It's big tech recruitment of vulnerable generations of future Google addicts. In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom and Google inked a deal to provide 4,000 "free" Chromebooks to students, along with "free" Wi-Fi to 100,000 families. In Kentucky, the Jefferson County public schools gave away 25,000 Chromebooks. In Philadelphia, public officials earmarked $11 million to purchase 40,000 Chromebooks for homebound kids.

               

Google CEO Sundar Pichai crowed a few weeks ago that the company now has 100 million students and educators hooked on Google Classroom. Bent on conquering the virtual meeting market, the online giant announced that its premium Google Meet videoconferencing features are now free to all 80 million customers of its G Suite for Education apps through the fall. Google Meet is racking up 2 million new users a day as school districts abandon Zoom, the dominant virtual meeting app that recently admitted "mistakenly" routing non-Chinese calls through its Beijing-based data centers.

               

But if educators think Google will provide more protections for American students than the ChiCom government, they're blind, dumb or bought off. As I've chronicled regularly in this column over the past decade, the Silicon Valley giant has repeatedly breached federal privacy laws to extend its tentacles into children's emails, browsing habits, search engine activity, voice memos and more without parental consent. Google's information predators have previously admitted to unauthorized scanning and indexing of student email accounts and targeted online advertising based on search engine activity, as well as autosyncing of passwords, browsing history and other private data across devices and accounts belonging to students and families unaware of default tracking.

               

A new lawsuit seeking class-action status against Google filed in Illinois serves as a warning to all the millions of families enthralled by their pandemic-gifted Chromebooks. Father-of-two Clinton Farwell alleges that Google illegally collected personally identifying biometric information from his children through their public school-issued Chromebooks (loaded with G Suite for Education apps) dating back to 2015. His suit lays out how Google has "infiltrated" K-12 education with hardware and software primarily targeting students under the age of 13, whose face templates and voiceprints are illicitly collected, along with their: physical locations; websites they visit; every search term they use in Google's search engine (and the results they click on); the videos they watch on YouTube; personal contact lists; voice recordings; saved passwords; and other behavioral information.

               

Despite signing a "Student Privacy Pledge" promising not to collect, share and retain private personal data, Google Chromebooks scan students' faces and unique acoustic details of students' voices to identify them by name, age, gender and location while using Google platforms. Farwell realized his kids' biometric data was being stored in a vast database when he discovered they were required to speak and look into the laptops' microphones and cameras in order to use the school products and apps.

               

A similar lawsuit by the New Mexico Attorney General's office filed in federal court in February exposed how Chromebooks and G Suite for Education apps mined students' Gmail accounts for advertising purposes. The New Mexico AG's brief also bolstered my previous exclusive reports, based on whistleblowing by Missouri teachers Brooke Henderson and Brette Hay, on Google's access to student profiles and family computer passwords through the default Chrome Sync function -- which can only be blocked by creating a passphrase buried in settings that school officials never inform students about (let alone their parents left in the dark from the moment schools require kids to create Google logins as early as kindergarten).

               

And now governments are entrusting Google to help develop contact-tracing technology on the promise that they won't collect location data, won't exploit data for commercial purposes, and won't grant access to unauthorized parties? Fox, meet henhouse.

               

Regulatory slaps on the wrist by toothless federal agencies have done nothing to deter the deceitful data usurpers. Why hasn't every other state attorney general filed a similar suit? Where is Congress, which passed the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 and the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 to prevent exactly the kind of routine marauding of students' digital lives perpetrated by Google and other EdTech vultures? Instead of pushing back, Congress passed the "Every Student Succeeds Act" and the "Foundations for Evidence-Based Policy Act" -- deceptively titled bills expanding third-party access to sensitive personal data.

               

The Invisible Enemy is right under our noses, in our homes and on our kids' laptops. Instead of removing children en masse from their classrooms in the name of public health, responsible adults should be de-platforming Google's privacy pillagers from every school in America in the name of public safety.

    michelle malkin sm           

Michelle Malkin

 

As we think about coming out of our caves. there’s jockeying for position in determining who’s in charge and who’s to blame. This was inevitable, given the personalities involved. When is the President the boss and when are governors in charge? We’re learning about federalism and dual sovereignty the hard way.

Trump is providing guidance to the states for opening the economy, rather than pulling all the strings like he’s inclined. He wisely climbed into his bully pulpit where he can influence the process, applying his trademark bluster of course, as our economy awakens.

There’s been uncertainty and criticism about this decentralized process with states making their own economic recovery decisions. So, who’s in charge? Perhaps nobody. But let me explain. Our Founders set up our government with power originating with the citizens. Only powers so enumerated are delegated to the federal government, with all other power residing with the states or the people. What seems like “chaos” to some, is evidence of the system working properly.

Everyone, whether governor or citizen, has unique personal opinions about safety. Lockdowns give feelings of control, while opening the economy gives up that control. The result is uncertainty and fear. Some plead, “just follow the science,” but there’s much more to it than that. Paraphrasing Rich Lowry, “outside of the lab, in the real world, we must deal with public policy, economies, questions of values and striking a balance between competing priorities.”

Scientists and modelers don’t have answers to all the questions presidents and governors must consider. Opening the economy doesn’t prioritize the stock market over human life and values. It doesn’t trivialize all that front-line health and other essential workers have done. Rather, it means we refuse to trivialize very real but obscure dangers that threaten many others.

We’re learning that “flattening the curve” via lockdown comes with costs of its own. There are “body counts” associated with lockdown-related mental health issues, economies being wiped out, and personal bankruptcies. A rise in unemployment has a material effect on suicides, homicides, domestic violence, substance abuse and eating disorders. And what’s the cost of delaying elective medical care like knee replacements, cataract surgery, annual checkups, glaucoma tests, and even root canals?

We dare not minimize or ignore the potential tragedy of struggling economies – neither here in the U.S. nor internationally. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) predicts that by year end, more than 260,000,000 people will face starvation, double 2019’s total. In April, WFP’s director stated: “More people could potentially die from the economic impact of COVID-19 than from the virus itself.” That’s the result of tearing down global food supply chains, not deaths from the virus itself.

It’s folly to require uniform actions while facing vastly different situations across the country. Each state has unique issues. New York has over 300,000 infections to date, and a death rate of 71 per 100,000 citizens. The New York City metro area has over 160,000 infected, with a death rate of 128 per 100,000. Texas has over 35,000 infections and 2 deaths per 100,000. Florida’s numbers are approximately 35,000 infections and 4 deaths per 100,000, despite its aging population and complications of having spring break visitors during early March.

Our Founders understood the value of keeping authority at the state and local levels. A counterproductive, “one size fits all” philosophy prevails whenever the federal government is pushing all the buttons. We’re lucky everyone isn’t following the same formula. Nevertheless, we will see both successes and relative failures while restarting America. And we’ll learn from that.

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis channeled our Founders when he wrote, “a state may……serve as a laboratory and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”  He popularized referring to states as “laboratories of democracy” which I’ve rephrased in the context of COVID-19 recovery. States are now serving as “laboratories of pandemic recovery.”

Scientists, economists, and social scientists will learn a lot from our states as “pandemic laboratories.” We’ll know a lot more about how and when we should come out of our caves, or maybe we’ll find out hiding in caves isn’t necessary. But right now, we’re not sure what we don’t know.

 

www.myslantonthings.com/

 

steve bakke small

 

Steve Bakke

Fort Myers

Saturday, 09 May 2020 08:04

How Long Can Biden Stay in His Basement?

Where Barack Obama achieved notoriety for "leading from behind," Joe Biden, these last two months, has been leading from the basement.

         

And, one must add, doing so quite successfully.

         

Since his rout of Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday, Biden has led President Donald Trump in every national poll and, lately, opened up a lead in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida. One poll has him tied with Trump in Texas.

         

Last week, however, reality intruded. Biden was forced to defend himself against the lurid charge of ex-aide Tara Reade that, as a senator in 1993, he had groped and assaulted her inside the Capitol complex.

         

Why did Biden go public?

         

Because witnesses were coming forward to say Reade told them of Biden's misconduct years ago, and major media outlets began to give the charge credibility by moving the allegation onto Page One.

         

Media allies were signaling that they could not forever give Biden a pass on this, and he had to speak to the charges. Which is what Biden did Friday as he told MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski:

         

"This never happened ... and it's as simple as that."

         

With that flat denial, Biden put his credibility on the line -- in defense of his character. For one cannot equate what Reade claims Biden did with the reputation he has built over half a century as a decent and honorable man. Biden now has to persuade the nation this woman is deluded, wildly exaggerating, misremembering -- or is deliberately lying.

         

If "nothing happened," Biden must explain how well he knew Reade and why she left a plum job in the office of a U.S. senator after only nine months.

         

This is not a matter any presidential candidate wants to discuss while conducting his campaign. But this is only the beginning of Biden's problems -- and of his party's problems with Biden.

         

With four months left before his nomination in Milwaukee, and six months before the November election, there are still among Democrats gnawing concerns based on Biden's performance in the debates and primaries, and since, that he has lost the ability to articulate issues clearly and cogently, or to complete complex thoughts.

         

The worry is that he is suffering from mental decline and could be destroyed by Trump in a presidential debate. Biden forgets, mumbles, misspeaks, loses his train of thought and appears, at times, confused.

         

Moreover, Biden is no spring chicken. He would take office at 78, one year older than Ronald Reagan, our oldest president, was when he left office.

         

Biden has also signaled, by his references to being a "bridge" president, that he will be serving only the single term that would end in 2025 with him having celebrated his 82nd birthday.

         

"I view myself as a transition candidate," Biden conceded last week.

         

This makes his vice presidential choice crucial. For that individual would not only become president instantly should something happen to a President Biden, but he or she would also become the leader of the Democratic Party, the probable presidential nominee in 2024, and possibly president.

         

Who will Biden select as America's future leader, after him?

         

First rule: No white men need apply. Biden has ruled them out.

         

Indeed, no male candidate of any race or ethnicity need apply. The vice presidential nomination has been set aside for a woman.

         

A woman of color? Not necessarily.

         

But here Biden has another problem. It was a huge turnout among African Americans in South Carolina that rescued Biden's failing candidacy and propelled him to his Super Tuesday triumph three days later.

         

Should Biden choose Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar as his running mate in a party that celebrates diversity above all, that all-white ticket would dismay and conceivably enrage the political elites of the black and Hispanic communities in the Democratic coalition.

         

If he chooses Sen. Elizabeth Warren, that ticket would also be all white. Moreover, it would point to a Democratic Party future far to the left of the constituencies that turned out in panic for Joe Biden because he was the last man standing athwart the forced march to the left of democratic socialist Bernie Sanders.

         

If Biden chooses an African American like Stacey Abrams, who lost the Georgia governor's race in 2018, or Sen. Kamala Harris, who did poorly in the primaries and savaged Biden for his opposing forced busing to integrate public schools in the 1970s, would Democrats welcome either as the party's designated future leader?

         

Michelle Obama, as Biden wistfully says, would fit the bill perfectly.

         

But the former first lady is unavailable. And while Biden is mulling over his choice in his basement, Republicans will be attacking his character, credibility and mental competence. Before the fall campaign begins, they will have soiled his candidacy good.

         

"It has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried," said Winston Churchill, after the British gave him "The Order of the Boot" in 1945.

         

Campaign 2020 may show us our own democracy at its worst.

patrick buchanan small         

Patrick J. Buchanan

Wednesday, 29 April 2020 18:33

Media relentless on Trump

Gov. Ron DeSantis held a press conference Wednesday at 5pm ... He announced the details of Phase 1 of his plan for reopening Florida.

DeSantis said the reopening plan for the state will go into effect on Monday, May 4, but will not include counties of Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach because advisors believe those counties are not ready for phase 1. 

DeSantis made the announcement a day after consulting with President Donald Trump and members of his coronavirus task force on Tuesday.

“We’re gonna approach it in a very measured, thoughtful and data-driven way and I think that’s what most of the folks throughout the state are looking for,” DeSantis said as he sat next to President Donald Trump.

Here's what phase 1 looks like for now... Gov. DeSantis said he would re-visit portions of this phase as time and new data give a clearer picture of the situation and adjust accordingly.

Reopening in Florida on May 4

Restaurants are allowed to reopen their indoor dining at a 25% capacity and their outdoor seating areas at 50%. Both indoor and outdoor seating must include six feet of space between tables.

Non essential retail stores will be allowed to re-open also with only 25% of capacity allowed inside stores.

 On the job, it’s likely that DeSantis will encourage employers to continue emphasizing remote working, while using social distancing among the returning workforce and suggested wearing mask in the workplace if space doesn't allow enough space for proper social distancing.

Elective surgeries are okay again.

Remaining closed

Bars, gyms and places where personal services are done, such as hair salons, will remain closed.

Schools remain closed and will continue distancing learning. Visits to senior living facilities are prohibited

          Are you enjoying your first taste of socialism? Life in America today is a sneak preview of life in Cuba or Venezuela. Democrats love it. This is the future they plan for you. The current economic catastrophe is exactly what America will look like if we institute the Green New Deal.

          The goal is to defeat climate change by killing your job, taking away your car, closing your business and turning America into Cuba or Venezuela.

          It's a progressive Democrat's rainy dream.

          And isn't it great? You don't need to go to work. Money magically appears in your bank account. Hopefully, you can live on $1,200 every six weeks for the rest of your life.

          You get to spend long days watching daytime talk shows and movies on Netflix -- you know, the things Democrats call a "typical day" for their voters.

          And think of the money you can save on gas by not going anywhere. Soon all those nasty, polluting, carbon-emitting vehicles will be just a memory of the past. How wonderful will it be to have time to "just think" as you wait hours for those new energy-efficient buses and subways?

          And, with all those nasty "nonessential" businesses closed, you'll have plenty of time to converse with your neighbors as you wait in line to see if anything is available for you to buy. It's socialist nirvana.

          So, please be honest with me: Are you enjoying your small taste of life in a socialist country? Are all these great benefits of socialism what you expected? You know, being told the business you spent your life building is nonessential and being forced to close; being stuck at home and not allowed to hold a job; having only the money your benevolent government decides you need; waiting in long supermarket lines only to see empty shelves; finding out toilet paper is now a valuable commodity; being told where you're allowed to go; being banned (in some states such as Michigan) from traveling to your second home; not being allowed to go to church; and having all your movements monitored and recorded.

          Having fun yet? Welcome to a test drive of socialist America.

          Democrats are just getting started. Soon they'll tell you whether you're allowed to enjoy yourself anymore. No more bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, bowling alleys. Oh, wait, that's already happened.

          But of course, liquor and marijuana stores are open. They're "essential." This is what Democrats like Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have been pushing for years. This is their rainy dream.

          In a truly socialist country, it is much worse. In a truly socialist country, your internet is tightly monitored; television is controlled by government; and all media is propaganda -- even a step worse than it is in America today. Although, The New York Times, The Washington Post, ABC, NBC, CBS, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are all trying hard to give socialist banana republics a run for their money.

          In a socialist country, as envisioned by today's Democratic Party, you will not have a car. Those will be reserved for party bosses like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Chuck Schumer and AOC. You will have to work in a state-assigned job. Doctors and janitors will make the same salary.

          There will be huge "advantages," according to the crazy socialists of the Democratic Party. Stores will be much smaller. And with the closure of all those greedy corporations, buying decisions will be much less confusing. The shelves will be empty anyway, so who will need all that space?

          And, to achieve a small carbon footprint, you will live in a tiny apartment and travel to work only on public transportation. But isn't that precisely why New York City is the worst coronavirus-infected area in the country? Half the country's dead are in one city. Oops, liberals forgot to mention that little problem.

          And toilet paper? There will never again be a shortage. The soft kind will only go to socialist politicians and government bureaucrats. The rest of us will do our part to save the planet by using biodegradable corn husks.

          I've saved the best for last. One hundred and ten percent of you will vote -- just like in many Democratic inner cities in the past few elections. There will always be more votes than registered voters. That's the way socialists like it. And, your ballot will show up in the mail. Don't worry if you don't receive it. The person sent by the government to pick it up will have extras. He or she will even help you fill it out. In a couple of years, it will get even easier, as there will be only one box to check.

          So, does your brief experience with socialism make you want to live like this always?

          As for me, if the choice is to be locked in my home, close my business and wait for the government to save me, or to face the remote risk of death from the coronavirus and keep living my life and earning a living for my family ... I'll risk my life and choose freedom every time.

          We are a nation of risk takers. We don't run and hide. We're all first responders. We face danger and live life. That's what made America the most exceptional nation and people in world history.

          If you don't like this test drive of socialism, I suggest we all start making our voices heard. Repeat after me: "OPEN THE ECONOMY. OPEN THE ECONOMY. OPEN THE ECONOMY."

          Finally ... since the slogan "Keep America Great" no longer applies to President Donald Trump's reelection after this catastrophe, let me suggest a new campaign slogan: "Make America Great Again, Part 2."

          Caps and T-shirts to follow.

The Lee County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to open all of its beaches, parking and bathrooms - including Fort Myers Beach. Starting Wednesday April 29th from dawn til dusk! 

 

Woooo Whooooo ... I'm catching a sunset tomorrow evening!

 

You can sun bathe, you do not need to wear a mask. All you need to do is adhere to proper social distancing.

Lee County Board Chairman Brian Hammon plans to call Fort Myers Beach Mayor Ray Murphy and ask the council to get in line with the County plan.

Monday, 27 April 2020 12:47

Covid-19 Latest numbers!

By the Numbers:

Corona Flu as of 12:01am April 27th, 2020 ... there are 2,994,436 cases worldwide so far with 878,707 people that have had total recoveries and 206,973 deaths in the whole world!

In the USA there have been 987,160 total cases..... 55,413 deaths and 118,781 complete recoveries. In the USA there are currently 812,966 active Corona Flu cases with only 15,143 out of almost 813,000 of those are in serious or critical condition! That is 0.01862% ............!!! This percentage had come down significantly!

Comparison to the 2009-2010 SWINE FLU:

In 2009, there were up to 1.4 billion worldwide cases of the Swine Flu in the flu season of 09-10 (less than 3 million cases so far w/Covid-19... yes we all know this number will go up but it is a far cry from 1.4 Billion) it was a global pandemic with 575.000 deaths worldwide.

We are in SW Florida, toilet paper is plentiful at WalMart and most stores like Aldi's and Publix too... they all are also getting their shelves stocked up with essentials and cleaning products so there is no need to hoard them! Be Smart, Be Safe, Wash your hands !

Fort Myers Beach town council has just voted to open the beach to residents from 7 am till 10 am starting tomorrow morning!!! .... WELL it's a start. Dogs are ok, biking, walking but no swimming? The town doesn't own the water so how can they not allow swimming? No towels or chairs... keep moving!!!

They will discuss expanding the hours this Friday! BUT for now...They want you to wear a mask! I recall when I first went to Italy, the motorcycle riders would wear a helmet on their arm to satisfy the law of "wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle"

So I will be wearing my mask on my arm! Not encouraging you to do the same but that is how I will comply... see you on the beach!

 

Just so you will remember come next time these guys come up for reelection Mayor Murphy and Veech voted to not open the beach!

 

 

They will also be discussing business/restaurants reopening on Friday when the Governor's executive order expires on "dining in" restaurants.

And the meeting is still going on...

Fort Myers Beach town council has just voted to open the beach to residents from 7 am till 10 am starting tomorrow morning!!! .... WELL it's a start.

They will discuss expanding the hours this Friday! BUT...They want you to wear a mask! I recall when I first went to Italy, the motorcycle riders would wear a helmet on their arm to satisfy the law of "wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle" So I will be wearing my mask on my arm! Not encouraging you to do the same but that is how I will comply... see you on the beach! Just so you will remember come next time these guys come up for reelection Mayor Murphy and Veech voted to not open the beach!

They will also be discussing business/restaurants reopening on Friday when the Governor's executive order expires on "dining in" restaurants.

And the meeting is still going on...

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