Category Archives: Law

Vaping Included in Milwaukee Smoking Ban

Heh.

E-cigarettes are now banned in the same locations where smoking is prohibited in the city of Milwaukee, after the common council unanimously passed a measure to do so on Wednesday.

The measure bans the use of e-cigs on city property and in places where state law currently bans smoking, such as bars and restaurants.

“Next month we celebrate the 8th anniversary of Wisconsin’s smoke free law in public places,” said Alderman Cavalier Johnson in a statement, who co-sponsored the proposal. “As new products have since emerged we can better address them through this resolution and align our policy with state law.”

The resolution was part of a three-part effort aimed at public health and tobacco use. It also included a measure to increase fines for those who sell tobacco to minors and another item to prohibit the sale of e-cigs to minors.

Thousands of Cases of Potential Voter Fraud after 2016 Election

Good reporting from MacIver. Fortunately, we have enacted some voter integrity measures since then.

MADISON, Wis. – Almost a thousand cases of potential election day registration fraud were referred to district attorneys across Wisconsin following the 2016 general election, and questions remain over thousands more voters who can’t be located or verified, according to data from the state Elections Commission.

All together, 368,392 people registered to vote on election day in November 2016. When the state sent postcards to their addresses to verify their residency after the election, 10,461 came back as undeliverable. Local officials claim they were able to reconcile all but 3,871 of them. That means, officially, 3,871 voters in the 2016 election cannot be verified and potentially voted illegally. Unofficially, there could be as many as 10,461 cases of voter fraud from the 2016 election due to election day registrations (EDR) alone.

Municipalities in Milwaukee County take that possibility seriously. A total of 44,797 people registered to vote on election day in Milwaukee County, and 2,563 postcards bounced back. When all was said and done, the City of Milwaukee referred 886 cases of potential voter fraud to the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office after deactivating the individuals’ registrations. An additional 32 cases were referred by the city of Greenfield, for a total of 918 in Milwaukee County.

Milwaukee County assistant district attorney Bruce Landgraf did not return calls asking how many cases were opened in response to the mountain of referrals following the 2016 election.

SCOTUS Sends Wisconsin Redistricting Case Back to Lower Court

Great news. It seems that the court has set an almost insurmountable standard for plaintiffs to prove injury.

The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously ruled the plaintiffs lack standing in Wisconsin’s nationally watched gerrymandering case — but in an unusual move, it agreed to send the case back to a lower court for further argument.

The unanimous decision in the case, known as Gill v. Whitford, does not resolve a challenge to the legislative maps the Republican-controlled Legislature drew under tightly controlled secrecy in 2011.

But it does end the plaintiffs’ hopes that a judge could order Wisconsin’s legislative boundaries to be redrawn in time for the 2018 elections. Federal judges ordered that last year after ruling the maps were unconstitutional.

In a separate unsigned opinion, the court also did not side with Maryland Republicans who challenged a single congressional district on partisan grounds. Another case involving challenges to North Carolina’s 13 congressional districts may address some of the standing issues in Wisconsin.

In the Wisconsin case, the court said the plaintiffs, a group of registered Democrats, failed to demonstrate they had a personal stake in the outcome.

“It is a case about group political interests, not individual legal rights,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority. “But this Court is not responsible for vindicating generalized partisan preferences. The Court’s constitutionally prescribed role is to vindicate the individual rights of the people appearing before it.”

But rather than dismiss the case entirely, the court ruled 7-2 to send the decision back to the district court “so that the plaintiffs may have an opportunity to prove concrete and particularized injuries using evidence — unlike the bulk of the evidence presented thus far — that would tend to demonstrate a burden on their individual votes.”

Woman Arrested for Terrorism in Wisconsin

Scary folks living amongst us.

A Cudahy woman hacked social media accounts, including Facebook, to recruit on behalf of the Islamic State terrorist group and to provide instruction on such terrorism basics as making explosives and biological weapons including ricin, according to a federal criminal complaint.

Waheba Issa Dais, a 45-year-old mother of two, is in federal custody after being charged with providing “material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization,” the criminal complaint states. She appeared before a federal magistrate Wednesday and is scheduled to return to court Friday to determine bail.

Dais “helped facilitate planning for attacks in the United States on behalf of ISIS and overseas by providing instructions on how to make explosives, biological weapons and suicide vests,” according to an FBI affidavit used to support the criminal complaint.

In addition, the affidavit said, she “provided detailed instructions to people interested in attacks and attack planning. Dais has also expressed a personal desire to travel overseas in support of ISIS.”

Choosing the next Washington County sheriff

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. Here you go:

On the eve of his third term as Washington County’s Sheriff, Dale K. Schmidt has decided to enjoy the fruits of his years of service and will retire upon the conclusion of his term in January. Sheriff Schmidt leaves behind a proud legacy of service, honor, stability and leadership. Washington County is better for his having served and we citizens of the county owe him our gratitude. Now our attention must turn to his potential successor and who will lead the sheriff’s office for the next four years or more.

The Sheriff’s Office has ancient English roots and a broad mandate. In Washington County, the sheriff is the only countywide elected official and has a wide range of responsibilities. The Sheriff’s Office is the primary law enforcement agency for every part of the county that is not served by a local police department. The Sheriff’s Office also provides additional support and resources for the local police departments. The 911 dispatch center, county jail and juvenile detention facility are all run by the Sheriff’s Office.

The Sheriff’s Office maintains a SWAT team, dive team, transports prisoners to and from court, provides security in the courts, runs a multi-jurisdictional drug unit, provides D.A.R.E. and other educational resources, executes foreclosures and evictions and is the primary law enforcement response unit for many of the county’s schools. It is a very busy department with diverse duties.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Sheriff Schmidt’s tenure has been the lack of controversy. In an era where some other law enforcement agencies are finding themselves embroiled in scandals and responding to public outrage, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office just gets the job done. Through honest, open performance with a humble respect for the rights of the citizens they serve, the sheriff’s department has earned a great deal of trust throughout the county. Meanwhile, as good stewards of the taxpayers’ money, Sheriff Schmidt’s office finished with a budget surplus of $231,500 last year. Sheriff Schmidt’s successor has big shoes to fill.

But like any county, Washington County has some looming problems that the next sheriff will need to tackle. As cited in the Sheriff Office’s most recent annual report, high speed pursuits have been on the rise. Many of these occur on Interstate 41 or Highway 45, which have become high-speed conduits for criminals through the county. These chases are dangerous for everyone involved.

Another rising problem is criminals raiding into the county from the south. Last year, almost 20 percent of jail bookings in the county were residents of Milwaukee. That is a 38 percent increase since 2014. This ispartially driven by the increase in the number of people who fail to appear in court every year. About 45 percent of those who fail to appear hail from Milwaukee County, requiring extra effort and time to track them down.

Two candidates have stepped forward for the opportunity to be the next sheriff of Washington County. Both serve in the sheriff’s department. Both are Republicans, like Sheriff Schmidt. The primary election to select the Republican candidate is Aug. 14. Since there is not a Democrat running, whoever wins the Republican primary will be the next sheriff. The voters of the county have the privilege to choose between two qualified, conservative, honorable men.

Lt. Jason Guslick has served in the Washington County Sheriff’s Office for 17 years in several roles working up through the ranks. Touting himself as a conservative Republican and lifetime NRA member, Guslick recently announced the endorsement Tim Schmidt, the president and CEO of Delta Defense in West Bend.

Guslick lists his primary issues as school safety, supporting the Second Amendment, fighting the heroin/ opioid epidemic, cooperating with federal authorities to enforce immigration laws, protecting county citizens from criminals from surrounding areas and taking a proactive approach to the mental health crisis. His vision for the department is “to move to a principles-based organization with associated values.”

Capt. Martin (Marty) Schulteis has served in the Washington County Sheriff’s Office for 25 years in multiple roles and has also worked his way up through the ranks. Schulteis lists his core values as fiscal responsibility, integrity and accountability, and believes that his extensive background and experience in public safety have prepared him to be the next sheriff.

Schulteis lists his primary issues as combating the current drug epidemic with a multi-faceted approach. He is also looking ahead to the coming resurgence of the meth epidemic in the county. Although opioids/ heroin are the drug du jour, cheap methamphetamines are flooding in from Mexico and have already saturated other parts of Wisconsin. Since meth has a stimulant effect on the human body, it poses different challenges to law enforcement and Schulteis is focused on the issue. Schulteis will also advocate to add an additional circuit court to the county to help manage drug crimes.

I encourage every voter in Washington County to take the time to get to know the two sheriff candidates before the Aug. 14 primary election. It is an important office that directly and indirectly impacts every citizen. The county has had a great sheriff for many years. Let us make the effort to ensure that the office will be in good hands for years to come.

 

SCOTUS Rules for Reasonable Management of Voter Rolls

There is no rational argument against this very reasonable method and timing for maintaining accurate voter rolls; unless, of course, you want a bevy of outdated information on the rolls to exploit.

Washington (CNN)The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that Ohio’s method of removing names from its voter rolls does not violate federal law.

The decision was 5-4.
Monday’s ruling concerning the battleground state comes as the country gears up for midterm elections this fall. At least six other states have similar laws, and the ruling could embolden others to follow suit and enact what critics say are aggressive purges of voter rolls.
Ohio law allows the state to send address confirmation notices to voters who have not engaged in voter activity for two years. If a voter returns the notice through prepaid mail, or responds online, the information is updated. If the notice is ignored and the voter fails to update a registration over the next four years, the registration is canceled.

Fake Republican Runs for Sheriff in Dodge County

From RightWisconsin.

Recall petition signer challenges incumbent Sheriff in Republican Primary

In what appears to be a move of revenge from the disgruntled former sheriff of Dodge County, Dodge County Sheriff’s Lieutenant James Ketchem of Horicon filed nomination papers to challenge incumbent Sheriff Dale Schmidt in the August Republican primary.

However, my Dodge County Republican friends may want to know that this isn’t the first time James Ketchem has signed a nomination paper. Both he and his wife, Carrie, signed the Walker Recall Petition on December 2, 2011.

To make this situation even uglier, according to the Campaign Finance Registration, Ketchem’s treasurer is Doug Ninmann, the husband of the former Dodge County Sheriff, Pat Ninmann, who was appointed sheriff in 2013 but was defeated by Schmidt in the 2014 Republican Primary. Ninmann refused to lose gracefully, instead choosing to run as a write-in in the November General Election, losing to Schmidt yet again. Apparently, the Ninmanns want one more kick at Sheriff Dale Schmidt.

SCOTUS Rules in Favor of Religious Freedom

It’s amazing to me that in this day and age we are still having to reaffirm religious freedoms that our Founders enshrined in our Constitution. Still, that’s where we are. This is a good ruling, if narrower than I would have hoped. That seems to be how the SCOTUS likes to roll.

The justices’ limited ruling turned on what the court described as anti-religious bias on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission when it ruled against baker Jack Phillips. The justices voted 7-2 that the commission violated Phillips’ rights under the First Amendment.

Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his majority opinion that the larger issue “must await further elaboration” in the courts. Appeals in similar cases are pending, including one at the Supreme Court from a florist who didn’t want to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding.

[…]

But when the justices heard arguments in December, Kennedy was plainly bothered by comments by a commission member. The commissioner seemed “neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips’ religious beliefs,” Kennedy said in December.

That same sentiment suffused his opinion on Monday. “The commission’s hostility was inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion,” he wrote.

Liberal justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan joined the conservative justices in the outcome. Kagan wrote separately to emphasize the limited ruling.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

President Can Pardon Himself

Despite the outlandish example, he’s probably right.

WASHINGTON ― Candidate Donald Trump bragged that he could shoot someone on New York’s Fifth Avenue and not lose any support, and now President Donald Trump’s lawyer says Trump could shoot the FBI director in the Oval Office and still not be prosecuted for it.

Rudy Giuliani told HuffPost Sunday, claiming a president’s constitutional powers are that broad. “I don’t know how you can indict while he’s in office. No matter what it is.” Giuliani said impeachment was the initial remedy for a president’s illegal behavior ― even in the extreme hypothetical case of Trump having shot former FBI Director James Comey to end the Russia investigation rather than just firing him.

“If he shot James Comey, he’d be impeached the next day,” Giuliani said. “Impeach him, and then you can do whatever you want to do to him.”

The issue is that the president’s pardon power is sweeping. The Constitution says that, “The President…shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” There is only one exception in there and it is regarding impeachment. The Constitution also doesn’t prohibit the President from pardoning himself or herself.

So it seems pretty clear that in an extreme case, a rogue and criminal president could pardon himself and the only remedy the American people would have would be to impeach him. Even then, the pardon would probably still be valid. A pardon can only be used to pardon a crime already committed. It can’t be used as a blanket immunity or to pardon future crimes. So if the President murdered the FBI Director and then pardoned himself, the only thing the people could do would be to impeach him, remove him from office, and then wait for himt o commit some other crime for which to prosecute him.

That would make a fun plot for a Clancy novel.

Justice Abrahamson Won’t Seek Reelection

I hope she has many healthy years to enjoy her retirement.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Shirley Abrahamson announced Wednesday that she will not seek re-election in 2019.

“It is the right decision for me,” Abrahamson said in a press release. “More importantly, it is the right decision for the state. I will encourage qualified candidates to seek election and to do so in a way that honors the independent and non-partisan tradition of the judicial branch in Wisconsin—though that tradition has been tested too often.”

Abrahamson, 84 years old, is currently the longest-serving justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. She was appointed by Democratic Governor Patrick Lucey in 1976 as the first female justice on the court. She has since been re-elected four times.

SCOTUS Ruling Strengthens 4th Amendment Protections

Good.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is putting limits on the ability of police to search vehicles when they do not have a search warrant.

The court sided 8-1 Tuesday with a Virginia man who complained that police walked onto his driveway and pulled back a tarp covering his motorcycle, which turned out to be stolen. They acted without a warrant, relying on a line of Supreme Court cases generally allowing police to search a vehicle without a warrant.

The justices said the automobile exception does not apply when searching vehicles parked adjacent to a home.

[…]

Virginia’s Supreme Court said the case involved what the Supreme Court has called the “automobile exception,” which generally allows police to search a vehicle without a warrant if they believe the vehicle contains contraband.

Survey Finds Racial Disparities in View of Police

That makes sense.

Whites are more likely than people of color to believe most police shootings are justified and that the people police shoot are armed, according to a poll released last week by the state’s police union. But majorities of both groups also believe — incorrectly — that most police shooting victims in Wisconsin are minorities.

The poll of 400 people conducted earlier this year by the St. Norbert College Strategic Research Institute includes questions aimed at probing perceptions about police shootings, whether officers spend enough time patrolling, and respect for law enforcement. It was commissioned by the Wisconsin Professional Police Association.

“In general, the results look like (what) I would have expected from the general literature on perceptions of police,” said Pam Oliver, a UW-Madison sociology professor who’s studied racial disparities in criminal justice in Wisconsin. “There is a substantial literature that says the police and policing are actually different in different kinds of places or for different kinds of people, so that experiences with police differ.”

No Cheese, Please

SMH.

Two Floridians are suing McDonald’s for $5million because they are being forced to pay for cheese they’ve had removed from their Quarter Pounders with Cheese.

Court records revealed that Cynthia Kissner, of Broward County, and Leonard Werner, of Miami-Dade, filed a class-action lawsuit over the cheese charging issue in federal court on May 8.

According to the lawsuit, McDonald’s had previously offered four different burgers in the Quarter Pounder category. Prices for those burgers differed from between 30 to 90 cents, based on whether or not the burgers had cheese on them, the Miami Herald reports.

Two Floridians have filed a class-action lawsuit against McDonald’s over the fact that the company makes them pay for cheese that they have had removed from their Quarter Pounders

However, McDonald’s ‘at some point’ reduced the Quarter Pounder offerings on the restaurant menu, paring it down to just two options. Now, only the Quarter Pounder with Cheese and Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese are listed on the menu.

Restaurant customers who want the old Quarter Pounder without cheese option are left with having to order a Quarter Pounder with Cheese and customizing it so it prepared sans cheese.

The lawsuit states that in order for customers ‘to be able to purchase their desired product’ — the cheese-free Quarter Pounder — they ‘continue to be overcharged for these products’ by ‘being forced to pay for two slices of cheese, which they do not want, order, or receive.’

Judge: Blocking Twitter Followers Violates 1st Amendment

Um… ok.

US President Donald Trump may not “block” Twitter users from viewing his online profile due to their political beliefs, a judge in New York has ruled.

District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan said that blocking access to his @realDonaldTrump account would be a violation of the right to free speech.

The lawsuit against Mr Trump and other White House officials stems from his decision to bar several online critics.

The White House has yet to comment on the judge’s ruling.

[…]

On Wednesday the judge agreed with their argument that the social media platform qualifies as a “designated public forum” granted to all US citizens.

“This case requires us to consider whether a public official may, consistent with the First Amendment, ‘block’ a person from his Twitter account in response to the political views that person has expressed, and whether the analysis differs because that public official is the President of the United States,” the judge said in her opinion.

“The answer to both questions is no.”

On the one hand, I see what the judge is saying. The president has chosen Twitter as a primary channel by which he communicates directly with the public. Blocking followers also blocks them from seeing his communications.

On the other hand, whatever the president tweets is widely shared on any of a thousand different news channels or retweeted by other people on Twitter. By the judge’s logic, public figures could also not prohibit people from attending one of their speeches without violating the citizen’s 1st Amendment rights.

This strikes me as yet another overreach by a judge.

SCOTUS Strikes Down Ban on Sports Betting

I agree with the ruling on constitutional grounds. It will be interesting to watch what states do with it.

The Supreme Court on Monday cleared the way for states to legalize sports betting, striking down a 1992 federal law that limited such gambling and likely touching off a nationwide battle to dominate what is sure to be a multi-billion-dollar industry.

The justices ruled in favor of New Jersey, which had long argued that the federal law unconstitutionally intruded on state affairs, telling state legislators what they can and — more importantly — can’t do with their time.

“The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority. “Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own.”

The ruling will open the floodgates to an industry long the domain of barroom bookies and Las Vegas gambling parlors. In New Jersey and Delaware, the first bets could be placed within days or weeks, and Mississippi could follow within a month or two. In total, about 20 states have either enacted laws or introduced bill to legalize sports betting, all an anticipation of this moment.

Brennan Confirmed For Appeals Court

Finally.

WASHINGTON – Milwaukee lawyer Michael Brennan was confirmed for a key federal judgeship Thursday, filling the oldest appellate vacancy in the country but deepening a partisan schism in the U.S. Senate over judges.

Brennan will take a seat on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago that has stood open since 2010 amid a bitter political standoff.

He was confirmed 49-46 with only Republican votes, over the objections of Democrat Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin’s junior senator.

That has typically been enough to sink a nomination in recent years, because senators from both parties have enjoyed an effective veto over the selection of federal judges from their home states, a tradition known as the “blue slip.”

Outside of party loyalty, there was no rational reason for Baldwin’s intransigence.

Kid Sues to Wear Shirts that Say “Diversity” and “Love”

It’s fine for the school to have a dress code. It just needs to be clear, fair, and consistent.

Matthew Schoenecker likes guns and T-shirts showing guns. But when the freshman wears the latter to Markesan High School, he is told to change, cover them, or spend the day in an isolated cubicle.

So he’s exercising some other rights to defend what he calls his First Amendment right to support the Second Amendment — he sued the principal in federal court.

The suit, filed Monday in Milwaukee, names principal John Koopman as the sole defendant. It claims Koopman violated Schoenecker’s freedom of expression by restricting him from wearing shirts that depict guns and other weapons in “a non-violent, non-threatening manner.”

The suit also contends that Koopman’s personal, case-by-case determination of which shirts are “inappropriate” violates Schoenecker’s rights to due process.

Two particular shirts crossed the line for Koopman. One reads “Celebrate Diversity,” and depicts a variety of firearms.  Another says LOVE, but the letters are formed by a handgun, a grenade, two knives and an assault-style rifle.

Mueller Raids Trump’s Lawyer’s Office

This is outrageous.

Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz warned Monday that special counsel Robert Mueller’s decision to raid President Trump’s personal lawyer’s office is an assault on the privileged lawyer-client relationship.

Dershowitz said on Fox News that he believes the decision to raid Michael Cohen’s office would be a sign that Mueller is trying to turn Cohen against Trump.

“This may be an attempt to squeeze Cohen,” he said. “He’s the lawyer, he’s the guy who knows all the facts about Donald Trump, and to get him to turn against his client.”

 “This is a very dangerous day today for lawyer-client relations,” he added.

Dershowitz, who has drawn the ire of Democrats for defending Trump, said Mueller’s move is also dangerous because it gives the FBI the option of deciding what information seized from Cohen to pursue.

“I tell [clients] on my word of honor that what you tell me is sacrosanct,” he said. “And now they say, just based on probable cause … they can burst into the office, grab all the computers, and then give it to another FBI agent and say, ‘You’re the firewall. We want you now to read all these confidential communications, tell us which ones we can get and which ones we can’t get.'”

The Post-Privacy Era

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. Here you go:

There is a lesson that I have preached to my children for years when it comes to using free services on the internet — if you are not paying for it, you are the product being sold. The recent revelations regarding Facebook confirm that lesson, but also highlight just how much of an illusion privacy has become in modern society.

The most recent privacy breach by Facebook garnered so much media attention because there is a connection to President Donald Trump, but it is hardly a new revelation. Facebook collects data about the people who use it and sells that information to anyone who can afford it. Facebook’s entire business model is predicated on collecting, shaping and selling its users’ information. Facebook’s customers are not the people who use it to share pictures of their meals and pets. Facebook’s customers are the people who buy information about Facebook users.

Facebook is hardly the only company that operates this way. They have merely become one of the largest and most popular because they created an application that people enjoy using. There are plenty of other companies with similar business models. Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google, Spotify, Pandora, Tinder and on and on. Even many websites for which you pay will sell any information they collect about you to anyone with a credit card. And since many people access their favorite sites on their mobile devices, location and other information can also be collected.

Then there are the data brokers who amalgamate information from many sources to create incredibly detailed and accurate profiles of people. They collect information about your buying habits, internet search activity, medical information, income, address, what guns you own, what movies you like, who your friends are and much more. These companies know more about people than their families or neighbors.

All of this collecting, buying and selling of information is legal. Then there is the illegal activity. All of this information is stored somewhere and people want it. Every week there is another story about some company being hacked and people’s information being stolen. Any information you keep on a computer will eventually be stolen. It is a matter of when, not if.

Worried yet? There is more. The next wave in breaking down privacy barriers is already here. The popularity of voice-driven technology like Siri, Alexa, Google Home and others has opened the door to a new way for businesses or hackers to collect information about you. Each of these devices is constantly listening to everything you say as it waits for you to say the key words to activate it. When a person uses these devices, their words are recorded and sent into the gigantic data processing hubs where they can be stored and used for anything.

Now people are sending their DNA to businesses through the mail to get a report back on what their ethnic heritage is or what diseases and disorders they are genetically predisposed to. These companies are creating massive databases of DNA that can be sold and used for everything from marketing products to redirecting government programs to something nefarious.

The fascinating aspect of the collapse of privacy is that it is almost entirely voluntary. People are willingly sharing incredibly personal information about themselves all over the internet. In an odd quirk of human nature, people who are unwilling to share details about themselves to their friends at church are more than willing to share their most intimate details on a digital platform that the entire world can access.

Why?

There are some legitimate and positive reasons for people to share personal information online. Having detailed information about people allows some companies to deliver a more personalized service. By knowing more about their customers, retailers, airlines, banks and many other companies can customize their offerings to the individual consumer. Consumers love it.

All of that information is also being used for more general societal benefits. For example, Google has partnered with the Centers for Disease Control to track flu outbreaks in real time based on spikes in the use of certain search terms. This allows the CDC to better allocate resources to where and when they are needed most.

People also enjoy the convenience of technology. Of course it is easy enough for you to use a remote to turn off the television, get up and adjust the thermostat, close the garage door, set an alarm, and turn on the radio. But it is even easier to just say, “hey Siri” and let it do the rest. The price of that convenience is that Apple, which provides Siri, now knows what channel you were on when you turned the television off, what temperature you like at that time of day, what kind of garage door opener you have, when you plan to get up and what music you like. What will Apple do with that information? That is none of your business. It is theirs.

Of course, there is a darker reason for people being willing to abandon any notion of privacy. The vile parts of human nature like vanity, greed and pride drive people to want to share things that were considered private 30 years ago. For every picture of a silly cat on one site, there is a picture of some guy’s private parts somewhere else.

Our culture has certainly crossed into a post-privacy era. It was a threshold we sprinted across willingly and without hesitation. There are many benefits, but also great risks. It will take a while for our laws and expectations to catch up.

California Judge Mandates that Coffee Carries Cancer Warning

One has to wonder if such a warning will deter a single coffee drinker from drinking coffee. And if not, then what’s the point?

A Los Angeles judge has ruled that California law requires coffee companies to carry an ominous cancer warning label because of a chemical produced in the roasting process.

Elihu Berle, a superior court judge, wrote in a proposed ruling on Wednesday that Starbucks and other coffee companies failed to show that the threat from a chemical compound produced in the roasting process was insignificant.

A not-for-profit group had sued coffee roasters, distributors and retailers under a state law that requires warnings on a wide range of chemicals that can cause cancer. One of those chemicals is acrylamide, a carcinogen present in coffee.