New York State primary June 25

7 candidates for 2 Family Court Judge slots

Election 2019Back in January, the Governor signed a bill that moves all New York State primary elections, federal, state, and local races, to June.

In many ways, this is a very good thing, one I’ve supported. In previous years, the federal races – Congress, US Senator – were in June, with the others in September. The autumnal primaries were too late, giving the incumbent an unfair advantage.

To the surprise of many, the change went into effect right away. This has meant that the petitioning to get on the ballot took place in April rather than July.

One of the candidates for Family Court Judge, a countywide race, showed up at my door recently. I was thinking she wanted my signature on her petition. No, she wanted me to support her in the actual race. Given her door-to-door effort and her record, I think I will vote for her.

Yikes, there are SEVEN candidates for Family Court Judge for two slots. Of the other six, one I won’t vote for is the lawyer who screwed up the amount I needed for closing on the house we live in, leaving me $1800 short. He may be qualified for the court position, but it’s my one chance for vengeance.

Additionally, there are two candidates for one county court judge, and three candidates for one city court judge on June 25.

Finally, there’s a contentious race between two candidates for Albany County Comptroller. I know one of them personally. A supporter from the other camp Instant Messaged me to tout the qualifications and non-racist bona fides of his candidate.

The candidate I spoke with indicates that, in all of these Democratic primaries, the winner of those races will almost certainly be elected in November, because that’s the way it is in Albany County. That’s why I’m enrolled in a party.

I remain irritable that we in upstate New York can only vote from noon until 9 p.m., quite possibly the shortest primary slot in the country. Yet people in New York City, Long Island, some NYC suburbs, and Erie County (Buffalo) can vote from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Measles outbreak: it loves New York

Between 1963 and 1967, 1 version of the vaccine contained inactivated measles virus, rather than the live virus.

Vaccine Safety HandbookA couple weeks ago, I had posted on Facebook a news story about the measles. It noted that Los Angeles County health officials “told more than 900 college students and staff members to stay home because they may have been exposed.”

Someone I was unfamiliar with responded, “What is [the infection rate] in the countries from which most of the persons who enter this country illegally?”

I don’t know, but I pointed out that the folks bringing measles into the United States were not necessarily here illegally. Quoting the Centers for Disease Control: “The disease is brought into the United States by unvaccinated people who get infected in other countries. Typically 2 out of 3 of these unvaccinated travelers are Americans.”

But since she asked, I noted that while “measles is still common in many countries,” the current CDC Travel Notices on the disease are for Israel, Ukraine, Japan, Brazil – the state of Amazonas in particular – and the Philippines.

The World Health Organization, which has noted great strides being made: “In 2017, about 85% of the world’s children received 1 dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday through routine health services – up from 72% in 2000.”

Still, “Of the estimated 20.8 million infants not vaccinated with at least one dose of measles vaccine through routine immunization in 2017, about 8.1 million were in 3 countries: India, Nigeria, and Pakistan.”

I became curious about the propaganda machine that helped spread the disease in the United States. “PEACH, formally known as Parents Educating and Advocating for Children’s Health, has been circulating magazines and pamphlets since at least 2014 that claim vaccines are in opposition with Jewish religious law, (falsely) link vaccines to autism, and recount anonymous horror stories of children being irreparably harmed by vaccines.

“Led by Jewish mothers, the group has brought anti-vax arguments and conspiracies into a community known for its cautious interaction with the modern, secular world.” It’s an interesting story that helps explain why New York State is the epicenter of the measles outbreak in 2019.

A bit of history: “In the decade before 1963 when a vaccine became available, nearly all children got measles by the time they were 15 years of age. It is estimated 3 to 4 million people in the United States were infected each year. Also each year, among reported cases, an estimated 400 to 500 people died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 1,000 suffered encephalitis (swelling of the brain) from measles…

“Measles was declared eliminated (absence of continuous disease transmission for greater than 12 months) from the United States in 2000. This was thanks to a highly effective vaccination program in the United States, as well as better measles control in the Americas region.”

Also: “People who were vaccinated in the 1960s should double-check their vaccination records because there were two different types of the vaccine circulating at the time, and one was ineffective.

“The CDC warns that, between 1963 and 1967, one version of the vaccine contained inactivated measles virus, rather than live virus. This version was not effective, and those vaccinated with this version should receive a booster shot.”

The “right to be forgotten” bill should be forgotten

This bill is a constitutional and policy disaster that shows no sign that the drafters made any attempt whatsoever to conform to the requirements of the constitution. It purports to punish both speakers and search engines for publishing—or indexing—truthful information protected by the First Amendment.

Intellectual property lawyer/drummer Paul Rapp noted that a “right to be forgotten” bill has been introduced in the New York legislature. “These laws are based on some supposed ‘human right’ that… says you’re entitled to have embarrassing things in your past ‘forgotten’ on the internet.”

From New York Assembly Bill 5323, introduced by Assemblyman David I. Weprin and, as Senate Bill 4561 by state Senator Tony Avella: “Requires search engines, indexers, publishers and any other persons or entities which make available, on or through the internet or other widely used computer-based network, program or service, information about an individual to remove such information, upon the request of the individual, within thirty days of such request.”

The Washington Post writes:

So, under this bill, newspapers, scholarly works, copies of books on Google Books and Amazon, online encyclopedias (Wikipedia and others) — all would have to be censored whenever a judge and jury found (or the author expected them to find) that the speech was “no longer material to current public debate or discourse” (except when it was “related to convicted felonies” or “legal matters relating to violence” in which the subject played a “central and substantial” role). And of course the bill contains no exception even for material of genuine historical interest; after all, such speech would have to be removed if it was “no longer material to current public debate.” Nor is there an exception for autobiographic material, whether in a book, on a blog or anywhere else. Nor is there an exception for political figures, prominent businesspeople and others.

But the deeper problem with the bill is simply that it aims to censor what people say, under a broad, vague test based on what the government thinks the public should or shouldn’t be discussing. It is clearly unconstitutional under current First Amendment law, and I hope First Amendment law will stay that way (no matter what rules other countries might have adopted).

The website Reason received this blistering analysis from First Amendment attorney Ken White of Brown, White & Osborn (and also of Popehat fame):

This bill is a constitutional and policy disaster that shows no sign that the drafters made any attempt whatsoever to conform to the requirements of the constitution. It purports to punish both speakers and search engines for publishing—or indexing—truthful information protected by the First Amendment. There’s no First Amendment exception for speech deemed “irrelevant” or “inadequate” or “excessive,” and the rules for punishing “inaccurate” speech are already well-established and not followed by this bill. The bill is hopelessly vague, requiring speakers to guess at what some fact-finder will decide is “irrelevant” or “no longer material to current public debate,” or how a fact-finder will balance (in defiance of the First Amendment) the harm of the speech and its relevance. The exceptions are haphazard and poorly defined, and the role of the New York Secretary of State in administering the law is unclear. This would be a bonanza for anyone who wanted to harass reporters, bloggers, search engines, and web sites to take down negative information, and would incentivize such harassment and inflict massive legal costs on anyone who wanted to stand up to a vexatious litigant.

Conversely, the Association for Accountability and Internet Democracy (AAID) supports the bill, saying that “that the Right to Be Forgotten has allowed thousands of victims throughout the European Union to reclaim their dignity and their right to live a normal life unaffected by online exclusion from society.”

I remain unconvinced that the possible value of this legislation outweighs the onerous burden of removing true but supposedly “irrelevant” speech, and as a librarian, I actively oppose this bill.

Vacation 2016

yes, we get milk delivered

map.nyOne of several posts.

The great thing about going on vacation is having plenty of things to blog about. The tough thing about being on the road is that there’s no time to write about it. Part of the problem is that the three of us are in one room, and I’m trying not to wake them up.

This first post will be about traveling, in broad strokes, from July 10-19. Vacation 2016 may be the first time I took off more than a week from work since 1998, save for my parents’ deaths. Later, I’ll be describing some of our various stops.

One of the rules of the road for our household is that we try to minimize announcing that we’ll be away Continue reading “Vacation 2016”

N is for New York State

Seneca Falls is the birthplace of the Women’s Rights Movement.

Seneca fallsWhen people from far outside from here think of the state of New York, the idea of skyscrapers and concrete usually come to mind.

Surely, people all over tend to generalize a place by its most noted locale – it’s likely people from New York think that everyone in Iowa is a farmer. But I think New York suffers from it more. Not only is New York, New York the largest city in the country, the “it’s so nice they named it twice” phenomenon really locks it in.

Not only that, many of our favorite songs about New York Continue reading “N is for New York State”