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Day 524: "Bedrock constitutional principles."

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1/ A Louisiana judge temporarily blocked enforcement of a statewide “trigger law” ban on abortion, allowing the state’s three remaining abortion clinics to continue operating. Louisiana is one of 13 states that had trigger laws on the books in anticipation of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. In several states, including Louisiana, those laws took effect immediately, halting abortion care across the state. The order followed a lawsuit by abortion providers alleging that the state’s “trigger” bans are “vague” because they don’t have a “clear and unambiguous effective date” and “lack adequate standing for enforceability.” A hearing is pending next week. (Axios / CBS News / New York Times / Washington Post / The Hill)

  • 📌 Day 521: In a historic reversal, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and eliminated the constitutional right to an abortion after 49 years. The 6-to-3 decision to uphold a Mississippi abortion ban follows the leak of a draft opinion in May indicating that the court was poised to overturn Roe, which first declared a constitutional right to abortion, as well as Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which re-affirmed that right in 1992. The ruling leaves states free to restrict or ban abortions. At least 26 states – where roughly 33 million women of child-bearing age live – are expected to ban or restrict abortions, including battleground states like Arizona, Wisconsin, and Michigan, which have pre-Roe bans on abortion on the books. Georgia has a six-week ban in place. More than a quarter of the country’s 790 abortion clinics are estimated to close, and women in those states will have to travel an average of 552 miles to access the medical procedure.

2/ Attorney General Merrick Garland indicated that the Justice Department will protect the right to seek abortions across state lines, calling the Supreme Court decision to reverse Roe v. Wade “a devastating blow to reproductive freedom.” Garland said “bedrock constitutional principles” protect a women’s rights to seek reproductive care, and that the “Constitution continues to restrict states’ authority to ban reproductive services provided outside their borders.” Both Texas and Oklahoma recently passed abortion bans that allow private citizens to sue people who perform abortions or who otherwise help someone get one. In Texas, lawmakers have signaled that they want to make it illegal for people to travel out of state to get the procedure. In his concurring opinion, however, Justice Brett Kavanaugh suggested that women who travel to another state to receive an abortion would be protected by the constitutional right to interstate travel. Garland also said the department is “ready to work with other arms of the federal government that seek to use their lawful authorities to protect and preserve access to reproductive care,” noting that the FDA has approved the use of Mifepristone and that states cannot ban the medication based on disagreement with the FDA’s judgment. (Bloomberg / New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post)

3/ A coalition of 22 state attorneys general reaffirmed their commitment to defending abortion rights and expanding access to reproductive care in their states. “If you seek access to abortion and reproductive health care, we’re committed to using the full force of the law to support you,” the attorneys general wrote. “We will continue to use all legal tools at our disposal to fight for your rights and stand up for our laws,” they wrote. The coalition is comprised of the attorneys general of New York, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. “When it comes to abortion care,” they wrote, “it’s your body and your right to choose.” (CNN / New York Times)

4/ Justice Clarence Thomas indicated that he believes the Supreme Court should reconsider defamation laws as the court declined to revisit the First Amendment decision in New York Times v. Sullivan – a landmark 1964 ruling that set a high bar for public figures to sue news organizations for libel. The Coral Ridge Ministries Media unsuccessfully sued the Southern Poverty Law Center for labeling it as a “hate group” for broadcasting a television program that describes homosexuality as “lawless,” “an abomination,” “vile,” “against nature,” “profane,” and “shameful.” Thomas was the only justice to say he would have heard the case, saying the “actual malice” standard established by Sullivan has “allowed media organizations and interest groups to cast false aspersions on public figures with near impunity.” (Axios / Bloomberg / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

5/ The Jan. 6 committee unexpectedly scheduled a hearing for Tuesday to present “recently obtained evidence” and take witness testimony. The committee did not reveal the witness list or topic but said it would “present recently obtained evidence and receive witness testimony.” The committee previously said the next set of hearings would take place when Congress returns from its two-week July Fourth recess, sometime in mid-July. Tuesday’s hearing starts at 1 p.m. Eastern and will be the panel’s sixth hearing this month. (NBC News / New York Times / CNN / CNBC / Washington Post)

6/ More than 1 million voters from 43 states have switched to the Republican Party over the last year compared to about 630,000 who became Democrats. While Trump was in office, Democrats enjoyed a slight edge in the number of party switchers nationwide. (Associated Press)

poll/ 59% of Americans disapprove of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning the constitutional right to an abortion, including 67% of women. 78% of Republicans were in favor of the decision, 83% of Democrats disapproved. (Bloomberg / NPR)

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j8048188
43 days ago
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I know several people that more identify as liberal/democrat that have registered as republicans so they can vote in the R primaries, to choose more moderate candidates.
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Clever Cryptocurrency Theft

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Beanstalk Farms is a decentralized finance project that has a majority stake governance system: basically people have proportiona votes based on the amount of currency they own. A clever hacker used a “flash loan” feature of another decentralized finance project to borrow enough of the currency to give himself a controlling stake, and then approved a $182 million transfer to his own wallet.

It is insane to me that cryptocurrencies are still a thing.

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j8048188
111 days ago
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For even more stories of stupid Web3 stuff, this site is great. And it has an RSS feed that works great with Newsblur! https://web3isgoinggreat.com/
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1 public comment
GaryBIshop
111 days ago
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So true!

Deviled Eggs

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The foil on the toothpick represents the blue flash.
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j8048188
148 days ago
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Gotta leave links to Demon Core-Kun:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZIjbX1gj88
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNZnfbl_Z7M
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Od_RTVirPCo

I call that Youtube channel the Japanese Chaos videos.
jlvanderzwan
148 days ago
OMG this is the best thing ever
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1 public comment
DexX
146 days ago
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"The experimenter needed to maintain a slight separation between the reflector halves in order to stay below criticality. The standard protocol was to use shims between the halves, as allowing them to close completely could result in the instantaneous formation of a critical mass and a lethal power excursion. Under Slotin's own unapproved protocol, the shims were not used and the only thing preventing the closure was the blade of a standard flat-tipped screwdriver manipulated in Slotin's other hand. Slotin, who was given to bravado, became the local expert, performing the test on almost a dozen occasions, often in his trademark blue jeans and cowboy boots, in front of a roomful of observers. Enrico Fermi reportedly told Slotin and others they would be "dead within a year" if they continued performing the test in that manner."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demon_core
Melbourne, Australia

IRS: Selfies Now Optional, Biometric Data to Be Deleted

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The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) said Monday that taxpayers are no longer required to provide facial scans to create an account online at irs.gov. In lieu of providing biometric data, taxpayers can now opt for a live video interview with ID.me, the privately-held Virginia company that runs the agency’s identity proofing system. The IRS also said any biometric data already shared with ID.me would be permanently deleted over the next few weeks, and any biometric data provided for new signups will be destroyed after an account is created.

“Taxpayers will have the option of verifying their identity during a live, virtual interview with agents; no biometric data – including facial recognition – will be required if taxpayers choose to authenticate their identity through a virtual interview,” the IRS said in a Feb. 21 statement.

“Taxpayers will still have the option to verify their identity automatically through the use of biometric verification through ID.me’s self-assistance tool if they choose,” the IRS explained. “For taxpayers who select this option, new requirements are in place to ensure images provided by taxpayers are deleted for the account being created. Any existing biometric data from taxpayers who previously created an IRS Online Account that has already been collected will also be permanently deleted over the course of the next few weeks.”

In addition, the IRS said it planned to roll out Login.gov as an authentication tool for those seeking access to their tax records online. Login.gov is a single sign-on solution already used to access 200 websites run by 28 federal agencies.

“The General Services Administration is currently working with the IRS to achieve the security standards and scale required of Login.Gov, with the goal of moving toward introducing this option after the 2022 filing deadline,” the agency wrote.

The IRS first announced its partnership with ID.me in November, but the press release received little public attention. On Jan. 19, KrebsOnSecurity published the story IRS Will Soon Require Selfies for Online Access, detailing a rocky experience signing up for IRS access via ID.me.

The IRS says it will require ID.me for all logins later this summer.

That story went viral, and the ensuing media coverage forced the IRS to answer questions about why it was incentivizing the collection and storage of biometric data by a private company. On Feb. 7, the IRS announced its intention to transition away from requiring biometric data from taxpayers who wish to access their records at the agency’s website, but it left unanswered the question of what would happen with the facial recognition data already collected by ID.me on behalf of the IRS.

In a letter to the IRS this month, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) challenged the Treasury Department and IRS to reconsider the biometric requirements, saying login.gov is perfectly up to the task if given all of the resources and funding it deserves.

“Unfortunately, login.gov has not yet reached its full potential, in part because many agencies have flouted the Congressional mandate that they use it, and because successive Administrations have failed to prioritize digital identity,” Wyden wrote. “The cost of this inaction has been billions of dollars in fraud, which has in turn fueled a black market for stolen personal data, and enabled companies like ID.me to commercialize what should be a core government service.”

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j8048188
168 days ago
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Where's the guarantee that the "live video interview" won't be used quietly collect biometrics for Id.me anyway?
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How to Recognize an Opportunity

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I am on the record as having really enjoyed the movie Tomorrowland. I don’t claim it’s some high-point in western cinema, but it’s an enjoyable fantasy-adventure with a message that resonates for me. Also, George Clooney in old grouch mode is fun. (Some day, he and Brad Pit will star in a remake of Grumpy Old Men. An entire generation will groan in despair when they see the first trailer, but they’ll go see the movie.)

I think part of the movie’s problem was that they sold it as a George Clooney action film with a young lady for a sidekick, but then the movie turned out to be two young ladies on an adventure with George Clooney as an Obi Wan figure.

Anyway, it’s on Disney+ now, so if you believe that the future can still be great if we just have the gumption to make it great, or if you have a daughter and you’d like her to see some good role models, I suggest you give it a shot.

As always, thanks for using my Amazon Affiliate links (US, UK, Canada).

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j8048188
175 days ago
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If you like stories about theme park failures, check out the Defunctland channel on Youtube.
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IRS To Ditch Biometric Requirement for Online Access

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The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) said today it will be transitioning away from requiring biometric data from taxpayers who wish to access their records at the agency’s website. The reversal comes as privacy experts and lawmakers have been pushing the IRS and other federal agencies to find less intrusive methods for validating one’s identity with the U.S. government online.

Late last year, the login page for the IRS was updated with text advising that by the summer of 2022, the only way for taxpayers to access their records at irs.gov will be through ID.me, an online identity verification service that collects biometric data — such as live facial scans using a mobile device or webcam.

The IRS first announced its partnership with ID.me in November, but the press release received virtually no attention. On Jan. 19, KrebsOnSecurity published the story IRS Will Soon Require Selfies for Online Access, detailing a rocky experience signing up for IRS access via ID.me. That story immediately went viral, bringing this site an almost unprecedented amount of traffic. A tweet about it quickly garnered more than two million impressions.

It was clear most readers had no idea these new and more invasive requirements were being put in place at the IRS and other federal agencies (the Social Security Administration also is steering new signups to ID.me).

ID.me says it has approximately 64 million users, with 145,000 new users signing up each day. Still, the bulk of those users are people who have been forced to sign up with ID.me as a condition of receiving state or federal financial assistance, such as unemployment insurance, child tax credit payments, and pandemic assistance funds.

In the face of COVID, dozens of states collectively lost tens of billions of dollars at the hands of identity thieves impersonating out-of-work Americans seeking unemployment insurance. Some 30 states and 10 federal agencies now use ID.me to screen for ID thieves applying for benefits in someone else’s name.

But ID.me has been problematic for many legitimate applicants who saw benefits denied or delayed because they couldn’t complete ID.me’s verification process.  Critics charged the IRS’s plan would unfairly disadvantage people with disabilities or limited access to technology or Internet, and that facial recognition systems tend to be less accurate for people with darker skin.

Many readers were aghast that the IRS would ask people to hand over their biometric and personal data to a private company that begin in 2010 as a way to help veterans, teachers and other public servants qualify for retail discounts. These readers had reasonable questions: Who has (or will have) access to this data? Why should it be stored indefinitely (post-verification)? What happens if ID.me gets breached?

The Washington Post reported today that in a meeting with lawmakers, IRS officials said they were considering another identity verification option that wouldn’t use facial recognition. At the same time, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) challenged the Treasury Department and IRS to reconsider the biometric requirements.

In a statement published today, the IRS said it was transitioning away from using a third-party service for facial recognition to help authenticate people creating new online accounts.

“The transition will occur over the coming weeks in order to prevent larger disruptions to taxpayers during filing season,” the IRS said. “During the transition, the IRS will quickly develop and bring online an additional authentication process that does not involve facial recognition. The IRS will also continue to work with its cross-government partners to develop authentication methods that protect taxpayer data and ensure broad access to online tools.”

“The IRS takes taxpayer privacy and security seriously, and we understand the concerns that have been raised,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig wrote. “Everyone should feel comfortable with how their personal information is secured, and we are quickly pursuing short-term options that do not involve facial recognition.”

The statement further stressed that the transition announced today does not interfere with the taxpayer’s ability to file their return or pay taxes owed. “During this period, the IRS will continue to accept tax filings, and it has no other impact on the current tax season,” the IRS said. “People should continue to file their taxes as they normally would.”

It remains unclear what other service or method the IRS will use going forward to validate the identities of new account signups. Wyden and others have urged the IRS to use Login.gov, a single sign-on service that Congress required federal agencies to use in 2015.

“Login.gov is already used to access 200 websites run by 28 Federal agencies and over 40 million Americans have accounts,” Wyden wrote in a letter to the IRS today. “Unfortunately, login.gov has not yet reached its full potential, in part because many agencies have flouted the Congressional mandate that they use it, and because successive Administrations have failed to prioritize digital identity. The cost of this inaction has been billions of dollars in fraud, which has in turn fueled a black market for stolen personal data, and enabled companies like ID.me to commercialize what should be a core government service.”

Login.gov is run by the U.S. General Services Administration, which told The Post that it was “committed to not deploying facial recognition…or any other emerging technology for use with government benefits and services until a rigorous review has given us confidence that we can do so equitably and without causing harm to vulnerable populations.”

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j8048188
183 days ago
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Why not just use the already existing login.gov SSO solution?
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