Jan 20 2017

Caffeine DUI, Court Overturns Gun Win, & USPS Delivers Dead Pets

A California man is preparing to go to trial for a DUI charge for driving under the influence of caffeine. 36-year-old Joseph Schwab was pulled over in August of last year by an agent from the California department of alcoholic beverage control. The agent was driving an unmarked car and complained that she pulled Schwab over after he cut her off in traffic. She gave Schwab a breathalyzer, which registered a 0.00% blood alcohol level, but booked him into county jail for blood work. The sample was screened twice and came up negative for everything except caffeine. Schwab was charged with a misdemeanor DUI – 10 months later. His attorney has filed to have the case dismissed, but the district attorney claims that the charge is NOT based on the presence of caffeine, and that they are further investigating the incident. The DA has not provided any toxicology results with anything other than caffeine, and declined to comment further on the case, stating it would impede the man’s right to a fair trial. California vehicle code defines a “drug” as any substance besides alcohol that could affect or impair a person’s ability to drive normally.

California is also home to a new law that makes it illegal to even HOLD your cellphone while driving. AB 1785 goes into affect on Sunday and prohibits drivers from holding their phone for ANY reason, including changing music playlists, and phones must be mounted on the dashboard or windshield. If it’s mounted, drivers ARE allowed to TOUCH their phones – provided they touch the screen only ONCE and with ONE finger. The bill’s author, Assemblyman Bill Quirk, says the bill will make it easier for police officers to stop and cite drivers for illegal phone use. He says the bill closes a loophole in current law that made talking and texting illegal, but did not address things such as playing music, shooting videos, typing addresses in the GPS, or scanning Facebook.

Some claim it is also a way of dampening business for Lyft and Uber, as ride-share companies work by alerting drivers of passengers, destinations, and routes, all via cell phone apps. To this, Quirk tells ride share drivers to simply pull over and park.

The California Office of Traffic Safety estimates that 1 in 8 drivers are paying as much attention to their phones as to the roads, and claim that distracted driving is a factor in 80% of all vehicle crashes. Besides requiring phones to be mounted when in use while driving, the law sites only two specific areas on the windshield where the phone may be legally attached.
11 judges of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals are poised to rehear a challenge to a California law which puts strict limits on where new gun shops may be opened. A three-judge panel previously heard the case and ruled in favor of the gun rights activists. However, this week the full 9th Circuit decided that the ruling needed to be reviewed. The Court has a reputation of being anti-gun, and upheld another California law imposing a 10-day waiting period on all firearms challenges earlier this month.

The case centers around a group of businessmen that hoped to open a new gun shop, but were hindered by a county ordinance that prohibits any new gun stores within 500 feet of residential neighborhoods, liquor stores, schools, or other firearms retailers. In May, the lower court ruled that the county was unable to justify this infringement on constitutionally-protected activity and allowed the case to proceed to federal court.

A total of 18 cities and towns in California have similar laws, and the Circuit claims that the decision needs to be reviewed based on that fact alone. Basically, they are worried that if the law is challenged and overturned in one county, gun owners in all the other towns and cities will challenge their own local laws.

Under intense pressure to provide evidence of Russian hacking, the FBI and DHS have released a 13-page report linking two Russian intelligence groups to the hacks. The report names the Federal Security Service, which is the main successor to the KGB, and Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU. The report theorizes that both agencies are linked to the hacking groups APT28 and APT29 – or what they call advanced persistent threats 28 and 29, which is consistent with conclusions from private cybersecurity firms that have looked at the groups in the past. The report states that APT 28, also known by a wide variety of names including Fancy Bear, is responsible for one of the DNC attacks as well as the Podesta emails. APT29, or CozyBear, was also implicated in the DNC attack. The report theorizes that both groups acted independently of each other and were not aware of the other group’s presence, even though both groups allegedly hacked the DNC at the same time.

The report then goes through a list of protocols to consider to tighten security or catch hacking earlier on, but doesn’t provide any information on how the FBI or DHS settled on these two exact groups.

On Thursday, Obama announced several retaliation measures, including expelling 35 Russian diplomats, closing multiple Russian compounds within the US, and sanctioning Russian state agencies. The measures are also in reaction to reports of alleged harassment of American diplomats in Moscow. The Washington Post reports that Russian intelligence agencies, three private cyber companies, and four Russian cyber officials are among the groups being sanctioned.

Speaking of leaks, Nevada’s state government accidentally leaked personal data from nearly 12,000 medical marijuana dispensary applications. The leaked data includes each applicant’s date of birth, home address, phone number, driver’s license, and social security number. The applications even include height, weight, and eye color.

The leak was found by security researcher Justin Shafer, who stumbled on a bug on the state’s website, and through that bug, was able to access all of the state’s dispensary applications. He also found that the applications can be found through Google. After learning of the bug, Nevada’s Department of Health and Human Services pulled the site in order to do damage control on the leaked information. As of Wednesday, the state still had not notified applicants of the leak.

The United States Postal Service has offered an apology and $600 to an Alabama woman after delivering a cage of dead canaries to her business. Rhonda King paid $600 for 8 canaries for her 60th birthday and an additional $100 to have them shipped in the appropriate, Postal Service-approved box and for next-day delivery. Instead, she received the box three days later, with two of the birds missing, and the other six dead. She reports the cage was smashed, with obvious tire tracks and what she called “bird carnage hanging out.” The package was delivered to her business, in front of several customers.

Her local postal service could offer no explanation and redirected her to the state office, which then redirected her to an office in Houston. A spokesperson for the postal service told the press earlier in the month that the post office planned to apologize and reimburse King, but it took over a week for anyone from the postal service to contact her. They offered to reimburse King for the price of the canaries, but did not reimburse her for shipping.

The human resources director at a Dallas-based tech company filed a lawsuit on Tuesday to demand the name and personal information of the person who mailed her penis-shaped gummy candies at work.

Melody Lenox received the PACKAGE from a company called Dicks By Mail and claims the package was harassment. In the lawsuit, Lenox claims that someone has also keyed her car and posted a series of hoax Craigslist ads about her. She believes the person behind these incidents is the same person who sent the candy, and thus is suing Dicks By Mail for the name, telephone number, and address of the person who sent it.

The company’s website cautions users not to send the candies as harassment, and holds a statement releasing both the company and the sender from any liability. As long as both the sender and recipient are 18 or older, an anonymous 6 oz bag of dicks costs only $15.

A Hawaii restaurant is losing customers and getting some bad reviews on Yelp after posting a bright yellow sign on their door that reads, “If you voted for Trump, you cannot eat here. No Nazis!” While Hawaii overwhelmingly supported Clinton in the 2016 election, the popular Café 8 ½ is getting plenty of poor reviews from conservatives and even from liberals who find the sign unprofessional and in poor taste. The business has complained and their Yelp page is now undergoing a “media cleanup” after their rating dropped from 3 to 1 ½ stars after posting the sign. Of course, just as it is the business’s choice of who they want to serve, their customers or potential customers are just as free to leave negative reviews. Ironically, many of the negative reviews pre-dating the sign compare the chef and owner to the Soup Nazi and many reviews complain about him yelling obscenities to his wife, employees, and customers.

The restaurant’s Facebook page lists its website as ‘trumpsucks.com,” which redirects to Hillary Clinton’s website. Many comments on the Facebook page call the café a “safe space for liberals” and “a safe place for families.” The owner and his wife told reporters that they weren’t looking to cause trouble, as there is already enough trouble in the world. After gaining national media attention, the sign was removed this Thursday. The owner stated he removed it because it “wasn’t necessary anymore.”

A Kickstarter project for reflectable eye wear has critics up in arms, claiming the project is aimed at helping criminals evade identification and capture. The glasses, called Reflectables, were first created by designer Scott Urban as a way to “protect your identity from the growing surveillance-state.” The frames of the glasses are made out of highly reflective material, similar to reflective highway signs, and work by bouncing both visible and infrared light back in the direction of the source. As a result, they completely wash out the wearer’s face on photos and CCTV surveillance footage. Urban claims the glasses double as a reflective beacon for pedestrians and bicyclists, and will also hide the wearer’s identity from facial recognition software. The product’s tagline claims that the glasses will allow wearers to be noticed and anonymous at the same time. Kickstarter lists the price of one pair at $85.

The Kickstarter was created in November, and will be closing on NYE and has raised nearly $40k at the time of this filming, with about 300 backers. Production is to begin in January, with June delivery.

Border security agents are testing out new lie-detecting kiosks to be installed in international airports. The Automated Virtual Agency for Truth Assessments in Real Time, or AVATAR for short, is being tested in conjunction with the Canadian Border Services Agency to help determine if travelers to Canada have ulterior motives for entering the country, because Canada is such a big terrorist hot spot.

The kiosk has been compared to self-check out registers at grocery stories, except that the screen has a face and software that can detect changes in physiology and behavior as it asks questions. It can supposedly pick up changes in the eyes, voice, posture, and gestures. The kiosk would search for signs of deception and discomfort and, if found, would flag passengers for further questioning from human agents.

The kiosk was developed by Aaron Elkins, a professor at San Diego State University. He claims that he is also working on adapting the software for use by law enforcement, employers, and human resources applications. He says that currently, the software is aimed at helping to “stem the flow of contraband, thwart fleeing criminals, and detect potential terrorists.” Early versions of his software have already been tested by border police in Romania and at the US/Mexico border. Various security agencies hope to install the kiosks at land ports of entry, airports, visa processing offices, and detention centers.

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