Breathing Down Your Tech
March 23, 2022
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“The problem with money bail, for those who aren’t familiar with it, is that it puts a price tag on freedom. It says to someone who is wealthy that no matter how dangerous you are, you can buy your way out.” – Chesa Boudin
New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who assumed the office when former Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned in August amidst sexual assault allegations, is facing calls not only from Republicans but from more moderate members of her own party to be tougher on crime. The entire state, but specifically New York City, is facing an uptick in crime, and Hochul introduced a 10-point plan that outlined her public safety proposals. The plan was meant to be confidential, so, naturally, the whole country knows a good deal of what it contains.
Her plan would allow judges a bit more leeway when it comes to sentencing. Currently, judges are instructed to set bail based solely on the “least restrictive” conditions, but Hochul would like to give judges the option to consider a defendant’s criminal history or their possession of a firearm when setting bail for serious felonies. The plan also proposes allowing police to arrest people for minor crimes that would only require a desk appearance if the person has gotten a desk appearance ticket within the previous year and a half. Other aspects include making it easier to charge someone with gun trafficking and changes to the discovery process. Hochul also proposes changing the age of criminal responsibility, presumably to make it younger.
The reactions to the proposal have been mixed, to say the least. Mayor Eric Adams said it “would make New York safer, while not undoing important reforms.” Long Island Representative Tom Suozzi, who is challenging Hochul in the Democratic primary in June, said that it “doesn’t go far enough,” but then said that any of it that’s any good “is copied and pasted from my 15-point crime plan that I released months ago.” Andrew Cuomo himself even advocated for making changes, despite having signed the 2019 bail reform bill, saying he wants “people [to] feel free to walk the streets.”
On Monday, lawmakers in Albany gathered at the Capitol to voice their opposition, chanting “Hell No, Cuomo 2.0.” Brooklyn Democratic Assemblymember Latrice Walker threatened a hunger strike if Hochul’s proposal is accepted (she helped write the 2019 bail reform laws). Hochul has repeatedly said in recent days that she does not negotiate policy in public, and refused to comment on her leaked 10-point plan. With the budget due at the end of the month, negotiations are likely to be tense between the governor’s office and the Legislature. (Politico)
A Man With A Ban
- The United States announced on Monday that they would be imposing travel bans on certain Chinese officials, accusing them of repressing Uighur Muslims and other ethnic and religious minorities. The sanctions come a few days after President Joe Biden spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping about rising U.S.-China tensions over the war in Ukraine, and add to visa restrictions that were originally created by the Trump administration.
- Though the officials were not identified, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the sanctions are going to affect Chinese officials who “are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, policies or actions aimed at repressing religious and spiritual practitioners, members of ethnic minority groups, dissidents, human rights defenders, journalists, labor organizers, civil society organizers, and peaceful protestors in China and beyond.” (Al Jazeera)
Breathing Down Your Tech
- Russian state-owned news outlet TASS reported that the Tverskoy Court of Moscow has banned Meta’s Facebook and Instagram under the country’s “extremism” law. Meta will be unable to open branches and do business in Russia following the ban, though TASS noted that WhatsApp was not mentioned in the ban of Meta platforms.
- The ban continues a Kremlin-led effort to fight back against United States social media platforms following the invasion of Ukraine. Disinformation experts have stated that Russia’s state-led campaigns to push false narratives around the invasion have ramped up since the conflict began in late February.
- Meta has declined to comment on the situation, though reports from Russian state media organization Interfax revealed that a Meta representative was present at the hearing and argued that the country did not have judicial power over a foreign company. (NBC)
Additional World News
- China has fully militarized three islands in South China Sea, US admiral says (Guardian)
- Court halts construction of Amazon’s Africa HQ on sacred land (CNN)
- Russian court finds Kremlin critic Navalny guilty of fraud (Reuters)
- Boeing 737-800: What we know about the plane that crashed in China (CNN)
- No country met WHO air quality standards in 2021, survey shows (Reuters)
- Ukraine war threatens global heating goals, warns UN chief (Guardian)
- Russian journalist who protested war on TV rejects moving to France (Politico)
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Hearing The Air
- Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson’s hearings continued Tuesday. Jackson, age 51, is President Biden’s nominee to replace Justice Stephen Breyer, who announced his plans to retire from the nation’s highest court earlier this year. Judge Jackson graduated from Harvard University and Harvard Law School before serving as a public defender, later working as a judge with the Washington, D.C. District Court before being appointed to the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. If Jackson’s nomination goes through, she would become the first former public defender to serve on the modern-day Supreme Court.
- On Monday, Jackson’s hearing opened with Democrats highlighting her deep professional experience, while Republicans took a different angle, taking aim at Judge Jackson’s supporters and supposed Democratic “dark money groups”, as well as airing grievances with past SCOTUS nomination processes, especially the controversial appointment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Sen.Lindsey Graham promised that Jackson’s hearings “won’t be a circus” like Kavanagh’s were.
- On Tuesday, Republicans attacked more of the people and organizations around Jackson while also portraying her past sentences as soft on crime. Ted Cruz criticized Jackson for the curriculum of the Georgetown Day School (where Jackson serves on the board of trustees) containing critical race theory books. For his part, Sen. Lindsey Graham got into a heated argument with colleague Dick Durbin over the future of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, culminating with Graham yelling, “I hope they all die.” (NBC News)
Additional USA News
- Texas appeals court reinstates injunction blocking investigations into parents of transgender kids (NBC)
- Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama brace as storm approaches (NPR)
- Disney Postpones Management Retreat As CEO Bob Chapek Continues To Account For Company’s “Don’t Say Gay” Bill Response (Deadline)
- Noem signs bill that rejects ‘divisive’ race trainings at South Dakota universities (The Hill)
- Prosecutor in Phoenix quits amid criticism of performance (AP)
- Senate labors to give Biden another win on Ukraine (Politico)
Bae It Forward
- Salt Bae is a great example of 15 minutes of fame really going to someone’s head. Nusret Gokce went viral on the internet for the ostentatious way he sprinkles salt onto what’s been described as fairly average food. But at his restaurant, Nurs-Et Steakhouse, Mr. Bae charges exorbitant prices for his steaks at all 16 locations. Each bill includes an 18% service charge as well.
- 24 Nurs-Et employees at the Miami location sued the restaurant for using the charge to cover their normal wages. On Friday, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Miami judge’s decision that the 18% service charge tacked onto all tickets did not count as a tip, because it wasn’t left up to the customers. This means that “establishments may apply them toward employee wages.”
- The restaurant does explain the service charge in the way most would describe a tip, saying, “For your convenience an 18% service charge will be added to your final bill and will be distributed to the entire team.” Despite that, the court says precedent defines a tip almost solely by its voluntary nature. The small bright side to this story is that all who sued the restaurant were found to be making between about $23 up to almost $52 an hour, which is well above minimum wage. (Food & Wine)
- Alcohol-Related Deaths Spiked During the Pandemic, a Study Shows (NYT, $)
- YouTube scuba divers say they may have found the body of a man missing for nearly two decades (NBC)
- Underwater Permafrost Is a Big, Gassy Wild Card for the Climate (Wired)
- Astronomy’s contribution to climate change rivals the emissions from some countries (NPR)
- NASA has found more than 5,000 planets outside of our solar system (CBS)
- Roll over sourdough. Italian scientists develop a new way rise pizza crust (NPR)
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