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Obama Administration Asks Supreme Court To Reverse First Circuit To Allow Warrantless Searches Of Cellphones By Jonathan Turley

Obama Administration Asks Supreme Court To Reverse First Circuit To Allow Warrantless Searches Of Cellphones
By Jonathan Turley
Aug 20 2013
Civil libertarians have long ago lost faith in Barack Obama’s and his continuing expression of support for privacy and individual rights. Just in case anyone is still not convinced, consider the petition this month to the Supreme Court by the Obama Administration. Just last week, Obama waxed poetic about his commitment to privacy. Yesterday however, his Administration took another major swipe at privacy and asked the Supreme Court to reverse the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, which held that the police could not conduct warrantless searches of your cellphone when you are arrested. The decision in United States v. Wurie is below.
Since there is a split in the circuits, there is a good chance for a granting of review by the Court. Civil libertarians are shuddering at the prospect of this Court getting their hands on this issue. The Obama Administration is again pitching its case to the most conservative members of the Court like Thomas, Scalia, Alito, and Roberts. It is an irony missed by many. While Democrats often discuss the need for a Democratic president to make appointments on the Court, the Obama Administration routinely relies on the right wing of the Court for its efforts to strip privacy rights and civil liberties.
The case from the First Circuit involves the arrest of Brima Wurie on suspicion of buying crack. The police seized his phone and used it to determine his address. They raided the home and found drugs, cash and guns. It is precisely the type of case that the Obama Administration knows will appeal to Alito, Roberts, and Thomas and probably pull in Kennedy.
The First Circuit simply held that the police could have easily gotten a warrant in this circumstance and should have. That is not enough for the Obama Administration. They want to strip cellphones of any and all protection after an arrest. What was truly striking about the case was the clearly frivolous argument presented by the Administration:

Comcast steps in it by sending copyright threat to file-sharing news site By Jeff John Roberts

Comcast steps in it by sending copyright threat to file-sharing news site
By Jeff John Roberts
Aug 21 2013
Lawyers for Comcast are making the firm look bad for no good reason by issuing outlandish copyright threats to a news site that reports on copyright issues.
This one’s a doozy even by the standards of dumb legal campaigns: Comcast is threatening to sue TorrentFreak, a news site about copyright and file-sharing, for publishing a document related to an on-going court case.
The document in question is a one-page fax — we’ve reproduced it below — in which Comcast provides a defense lawyer with subscriber information as part of the legal discovery process. (The larger case relates to a copyright-trolling operation in which a law firm is accused of creating a “honey pot” by uploading copyrighted shows, and then turning around and suing those who download them.)
According to TorrentFreak, attorneys for a “brand protection” agency representing Comcast are warning the site that it has five days to remove their client’s “intellectual property” or face a series of nasty legal measures.
This request is asinine for a number of reasons: first, if the fax is indeed a court document, then it is part of the public record and not subject to copyright protection. And, in any case, TorrentFreak is a news outlet that is protected by a fair use reporting privilege in the case of a genuine news story – which this clearly is.

My broadband experience in Europe, Asia, Latin America and the US By Esme Vos

My broadband experience in Europe, Asia, Latin America and the US
By Esme Vos
Aug 21 2013
This is an article about my experience with broadband service during my travels in Europe, Asia, Latin America and the United States and what I consider to be the important factors (often ignored by commentators) that determine the speed and price of broadband in different countries.
In recent weeks, I have read several articles claiming that broadband service is better in the US than in Europe; others claim it’s the other way around. Some insist that the fastest and cheapest broadband is in Asian cities such as Singapore. The situation in the real world is more complicated than what these articles would have you believe. Even within a country, the speed and price of broadband service differ dramatically.
(1) In my experience, both in Europe and the US, the dividing line between lousy and amazing broadband is urban (dense) versus suburban/rural.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, my broadband experience has been vastly different from that of my friends who reside just outside San Francisco. From 2008-2011 I was living in an apartment building a few blocks from downtown San Francisco. This building was served (and continues to be served) by an ISP called Webpass. It provided me with the best wired broadband service I have every had. It was faster than what I currently have in Paris, which is fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) service (promising 100 Mbps downstream and upstream, but delivering barely 35 Mbps downstream). Webpass San Francisco consistently provided me with speeds of 60 to 70 Mbps downstream and 70 to 80 Mbps upstream for $45 per month (they are now charging $50 per month). You cannot get broadband speeds like this just south of San Francisco in the suburbs for $50 per month. Unfortunately Webpass serves buildings in the urban core; they don’t do suburbs. In a community called Redwood Shores (where Oracle’s headquarters are located and which is halfway between San Francisco and Silicon Valley), the best deal for broadband is Comcast, a cable company, where you can get 25 Mbps downstream/5 Mbps upstream (actual speed) for about $35. The most expensive Comcast package — 105 Mbps downstream and 20 Mbps upstream (advertised speeds) — costs over $115. You would think that the areas south of San Francisco where a lot of startups and tech people live, would have broadband service as good and cheap as that in San Francisco, but that’s not the case.
As I’ve observed, population density is an extremely important factor when one is in the business of delivering wired broadband. It’s the difference between being cash-flow positive or going bankrupt. That is why rural areas don’t have many high-speed broadband options and suffer from poor broadband connections, both in Europe and the United States, unless these are subsidised by the local or national government. Of course density alone is not a determining factor but it’s critical. Therefore, to say that broadband service in Europe is better than in the US (or vice-versa) is inaccurate. It depends on where you live.
(2) Another factor that determines the quality of the broadband connection (especially FTTH) seems trivial but is of critical importance: the nature of actual connection from the street into the building and into the apartment.
In Paris, I have a FTTH connection from Orange (France Telecom) that should theoretically give me 100 Mbps symmetrical speed. Shortly after FTTH service was turned on in our building, I was getting only 20-30 Mbps downstream so I called a technician from Orange to come to the apartment to check my connection. Apart from the stress of having to communicate with the technician in French, I was heartbroken to find out that the previous technician who had installed the FTTH box in the apartment (while I was away), had placed it in the kitchen close to the service door that leads to the rear of the building. This is far from the living room and as a result, the FTTH box has to be connected to a wireless repeater and it is from this wireless repeater that I am getting my broadband connection. Had the FTTH box been placed in the living room, my broadband speed would have been much better, according to the technician. Indeed, he moved the wireless repeater next to the door of the kitchen closer to the living room and behold, I started getting 30 to 40 Mbps downstream. But if I close the door, the speed drops down again. The apartment building was built between 1910 and 1930 in theHaussmannien style which means thick walls, kitchens separate from dining and living areas and lots of volume (high ceilings). The thickness of the walls means good sound insulation, but poor wireless transmission. After the technician departed, I inspected the connection from the kitchen to the stairwell and into the street. It looked very 19th century. Details, details. Alas, they all matter when it comes to the quality of your broadband experience.


Back-to-School Tips for Parents & Teachers

FIRST DAY Back from Summer Vacation Welcome Back

K12 Back to School Ideas for Parents and Teachers this September



Research done by US military schools has shown success depends on parental involvement. You can model their success by simply inviting your parents into your school and ask them to be active in the classroom. Make parents feel welcomed anytime they can come, and call their employers asking them to give parents time to come. Parents who are supported by the work place and encouraged to actively participate in the classroom will improve test scores more than any other single activity. Study after study shows that students with involved parents make better grades, enroll in higher-level programs, attend school regularly, have better social skills and go on to college. But involvement by parents often turns on whether they are encouraged, and few developments are more encouraging than the Community Report Card for Parents. The report card is not about making judgments or finding fault. It’s all about giving parents the facts and encouraging them to find out how they can be a positive force for quality schools.

If you hate testing tell the ESEA by 9/29/13

Pencils Down

As required by ESEA, the Department reviews and approves certain state assessments through panels of peer reviews.  This process has been instrumental in helping states improve the reliability of their assessment systems and the accessibility of these assessments for all students, including English Learners and students with disabilities.  However, the agency suspended the process in December 2012 in order to update it to align with the new and more robust demands of what high-quality assessments should be.  Now, as a step in that direction, the Department is asking the public — and, particularly, experts in assessments — to respond to questions related to the peer review of state assessments.  All responses should be directed to (subject: “Title I Peer Review”) by September 30, 2013.

No Child Left Behind Waiver requests from 40 states

The Department has now approved waiver requests from 40 states and the District of Columbia , the Department has posted here initial and approved flexibility requests, highlights of each state’s plan. One-year waiver from NCLB for eight California school districts (Fresno, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco, Sanger, and Santa Ana).
California notified the agency that it did not plan to request Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility for the 2013-14 school year and, instead, will focus on implementing new college- and career-ready standards.  As a result, the Department considered a separate, joint request for waivers from the California Office to Reform Education (CORE) districts, which together serve over one million students and are leading the way for their state in moving forward with higher standards for all students.
The one-year waiver covers six ESEA requirements and the associated regulatory, administrative, and reporting requirements.  The Department will monitor the districts’ implementation of their plans and work with the California Department of Education, the California State Board of Education, and the districts to develop an integrated monitoring strategy.

The ConnectED scheme: Proposed new $5 per year cellphone tax could be used to bring more U.S. schools online

The ConnectED scheme
Unwilling to ask Congress for extra funds to pay for high-speed Internet connections in schools, President Obama is instead looking to tack yet another charge on cellphones through the Federal Communications Commission.  The new program, called ConnectED, would expand an existing school-wiring effort and cost each cellphone user about $5 a year, said White House officials.
President Obama’s plan to bring high-speed Internet connectivity to 99 percent of America’s school students. The five year scheme was revealed back in June and at the time, there was vague talk about raising taxes on phone bills to help pay for the initiative – except it wasn’t clear whether this was fixed or phones, or when such a tax would be implemented, if at all.
That question has been answered today, and it’s cellphone users who will be paying. White House officials, quoted in the New York Post, say each phone user will end up paying about $5 extra per year on their bill, or around $0.40 each month. It’s unlikely to break the bank, but it’s enough to notice.
The FCC is considering completely reworking the E-Rate. The goal will be to reach President Obama’s goal of providing 100 Mpbs-1 Gbps of bandwidth to schools serving 99 percent of students, and to provide wireless access inside schools. Allocating funding based on enrollment is one proposal, but the FCC is also considering cutting the top discount level, eliminating telephone service from the program, expanding eligibility of fiber leases, etc.
To see a brief list of the changes that the FCC is considering
For those with more time, here is the full Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)
It’s worth reading the comments of Commissioners Rosenworcel and Pai at the end of the NPRM, as they lay out very different visions of what the reform should look like. And the FCC really does read the comments. I think comments from school districts are especially powerful. It’s pretty easy to file comments online; here are the FCC’s instructions: FYI, E-Rate comments should be filed in Docket 02-6.
Comments were due September 16, 2013.