Good news: the House of Representatives has unanimously approved H.R. 699, the Email Privacy Act. We've fought for this bill's passage, so congratulate yourselves -- and then get ready to get this bill past the Senate. Last year, Sens. Leahy (D-VT) and Lee (R-UT) introduced S. 356, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act, which is virtually identical to H.R. 699; this bill, however, only has 28 Senate sponsors (vs. the 315 House sponsors H.R. 699 had). The good news? 10 of these 28 sponsors are Republicans, so maybe the bill has a shot -- if we act. As soon as I get action alerts, you'll get action alerts.
Not all the news is good, though: Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has signed the notorious counseling pro-discrimination bill, which would allow counselors to avoid giving help to gay clients if that would conflict with their "sincerely-held principles" (a House amendment changed the wording from "sincerely-held religious beliefs"). Possibly Mr. Haslam looked at the overwhelming votes in favor of the bill in House and Senate and decided to throw the far-right a bone. Still, I'm long past tired of people whining that they have to serve people they don't "agree" with in order to do the jobs they've already agreed to do. It's like they just don't want to be grown-ups.
Ho hum, Vox's Matthew Yglesias writes a very, very positive piece on Goldman Sachs's entry into commercial banking -- without disclosing that Goldman Sachs funds a Vox podcast. And Vox has performed similar services for Comcast in the past. I hope Mr. Yglesias doesn't respond that Goldman Sachs only funded the podcast, not the particular piece he wrote -- but I also fear he'll tell us that that corporate sponsorship really doesn't mean all that much, because isolated anecdotes hifalutin jibber-jabber.
Hispanic voting rights advocate predicts that nearly two million more Hispanics will vote in 2016 than in 2012. And most of them will vote against Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, who've both been swordfighting over who'd build the bigger wall, but I'm not seeing a figure actually describing the "skyrocketing" rise in registration among Hispanics, and of course Voter ID laws may well suppress this turnout, just as its supporters intended it to do.
Paul Kiel, writing at ProPublica, describes how Nebraska became a paradise for collection agencies to sue people over relatively small medical bills. Why? Because it only costs $45 to file a lawsuit in Nebraska, which makes suing over $200 medical bills a relatively cost-effective option for collectors -- and makes working families more susceptible to having their checks garnished and their savings accounts emptied out, when higher filing fees would, at least, force creditor and debtor to work together so debtor can stay afloat. Have any doubts that's the reason? Then note how, when a legislator proposed raising that cost by one dollar -- one dollar! -- he met with a storm of resistance from state collectors. Some folks will do anything to protect their frivolous lawsuits.
Finally, remember that "Hello Barbie" doll that could have compromised children's privacy with its artificial intelligence and wi-fi connection? Well, it's hardly selling, and reviews from folks who've bought it aren't very good, with almost a filibuster-proof majority of Amazon reviewers giving the thing one star out of five. One! Not even two! Yet Mattel hardly seems chastened -- a spokeshack said it was "representative of Mattel’s relentless goal to push boundaries and question limits" -- and the business press helpfully points to its capacity to "create buzz." Hey, whatever gets you through the night.