Pam's Points: On politics, privacy and our planet

Pam's Points: On politics, privacy and our planet

July 22nd, 2019 by Pam Sohn in Opinion Times
A photo provided by NASA shows Earth as seen from the Apollo 11 lunar mission in July 1969. Could a "moon shot" for climate change cool a warming planet? Fifty years after humans first left bootprints in the lunar dust, it's an enticing idea. The effort and the commitment of brainpower and money, and the glorious achievement itself, shine as an international example of what people can do when they set their minds to it. The spinoff technologies ended up affecting all of our lives. (NASA via The New York Times)

A photo provided by NASA shows Earth as...

Photo by NASA via The New York Times

And the winner is ...

The CNN debate nights already have been likened to a Democratic candidate reality show.

That's unfortunate — but maybe what it takes to get more voter attention.

On July 30, we'll see Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders slug it out with Pete Buttigieg looking on as the adult in the room. Flanking them will be Amy Klobuchar (Mom?), Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan and author Marianne Williamson.

The next night's line-up will feature another head-to-head between former Vice President Joe Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris, along with New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who has also shown full willingness to slam Biden — the current center of attention and front-runner. In the wings will be Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and businessman Andrew Yang.

"Mark the date: July 31, 2019. @JoeBiden finally gets his own Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing," tweeted Michael Tyler, spokesman for the Booker campaign.

Those lineups leave Sanders and Biden missing the chance to confront each other, even as they both seem eager to consummate their ongoing tit-for-tat over health care.

We likely shouldn't expect the fireworks to wait for more than a week, however. All of these folks know they need plenty of attention before the debate dates.


Privacy? What privacy?

You might have read last week about FaceApp, the Russian face-aging app that is — surprise — a danger to your privacy.

And perhaps you read or heard about the Washington Post consumer story about unsafe browser add-ons — think Chrome and Firefox. The story said there are as many as 4 million people with web browser extensions that sell their every click. "And that's just the tip of the iceberg," according to the Post.

But here's the kicker. You won't even be safe in church.

According to ThinkProgress, a liberal news website, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon and the conservative group CatholicVote used cell-phone location data for people who had been inside Roman Catholic churches in Dubuque, Iowa, in 2018 to target them with get-out-the-vote ads.

ThinkProgress writes: " 'If your phone's ever been in a Catholic church, it's amazing, they got this data,' Bannon told Alison Klayman, the director of a recent documentary film about the former Trump adviser, in a deleted scene that hasn't been made public. 'Literally, they can tell who's been in a Catholic church and how frequently,' Bannon added. 'And they got it triaged.' "

CatholicVote's office manager, Kathleen Storen, told ThinkProgress in an email that the kind of data collection the group used "does not allow you to collect personal information. ... Finally, we are not interested in commenting further on this story."

Bannon did not respond to multiple ThinkProgress calls and text messages.


Trump's a switch a minute

So much for Ivanka Trump's effectiveness in counseling her father about the appearance of his racist tweets.

President Trump on Friday capped his week of attacks on four minority congresswomen by telling reporters outside the White House that while he's president any criticism of the United States is unacceptable and they "can't get away with" it.

Never mind that little thing called the Constitution, which grants every American — even the president — the right of free speech and the right to criticize — oh, say, former President Barack Obama or current Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar.

They "can't get away with" speaking badly about the United States, Trump said. "I can tell you this, you can't talk that way about our country, not when I'm the president."

The four Democratic lawmakers have criticized not the country, but Trump administration policies, most notably on immigration and climate change.

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