WASHINGTON, July 10, 2017 – There is no doubt that the application of law provides for more interesting stories than any fiction writer can create. For your amusement, and sharing around the virtual water cooler, here are just a few:
Want a date?
Sparks is a company that owns numerous dating sites, among them are Christian Mingle for those of the Christian persuasion and JDate for Jewish individuals. Up until now, individuals in the LGBT community wanting to search for “same sex” matches were unable to do so on ChristianMingle.com.
A change has come following a lawsuit in California, where two gay men sued under a state law known as the Unruh Civil Rights Act, which says “all business establishments of every kind whatsoever must treat every person as free and equal regardless of sex, race, religion, martial status and sexual orientation.”
Without admitting wrongdoing (what a surprise), Sparks agreed to change all of its sites to allow gay singles to search for other gay singles, or other non-heterosexual persons, looking to start a relationship.
As expected, the ruling was followed by applause and boos. Critics called the decision “disgraceful” and made allusions to “Jim Crow,” while others called the ruling a victory for those in the LGBT community.
A Rose by Any Other Name, But not for Guns
The United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has determined that citizens do not have a fundamental right to own or possess machine guns under the Bill of Rights.
The decision in Hollis v. ATF comes after Mr. Hollis requested permission from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to convert his AR-15 to an M-16 automatic firearm. This would have resulted in changing his semi-automatic weapon into a fully automatic one. ATF said “no.” Hollis sued.
The court moved past the “accepted” understanding of possessing a firearm within the home for “defense,” stating that “with regards to automatic weapons where several rounds can be fired off without releasing the trigger… such are dangerous and unusual and not at all like the weapons that would have been used by militias during the founding of our nation.”
The court rejected Hollis’ argument that automatic weapons were “ordinary military equipment,” calling the argument ludicrous, and noting that Hollis’ argument would give civilians free rein to own other heavy destructive weaponry like bazookas and grenades.
Shades of Edward Snowden again — Internet Privacy
An article by RT.com says that the NSA has the ability to read 75 percent of all U.S. internet traffic. The article says programs referred to as Stormbrew, Lithium, Oakstar, Fairview and Blarney have the ability to monitor the actual text of emails, not just email metadata.
It is known that the government has the ability to monitor internet traffic. The extent of this monitoring, however, is alarming, and not softened by NSA’s statement that they “touch” only 1.6 percent of that traffic.
A group called TechCrunch has speculated that the percentage simply refers to information that has been sent directly to the NSA, and not what they actively look for. The NSA can look for all types of information relating to particular events for a sustained period of time. The RT.com article says that the NSA, working with the FBI, monitored all email and text messages for a six-month period up to the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.
Protecting national security is clearly desirable. Privacy concerns are the counter-balance.
Email senders should be aware that their content, regardless of security precautions, is likely readable by the government.
Thanksgiving Day Parade not all Macy’s is famous for
After paying approximately $650,000 in fines to settle complaints of profiling and false detentions in a single store in New York City in 2014, Macy’s promised to stop targeting minority shoppers and holding them in custody in basement cells described as looking like jail cells. Macy’s conducted police-like activity, “charging” people with theft, interrogating them and searching them.
The illegal practice officially ended in 2014. The fines apparently were not enough incentive for Macy’s to stop, however. They continued to target mostly innocent minority shoppers, including women with hijabs.
Macy’s made them take them off for searches.
Earlier this year, during Ramadan, a Muslim woman was grabbed on the arm on her way out of the Macy’s flagship NY store. She was accused of shoplifting and taken into an elevator and to a basement floor where two plainclothes security officers took her purse and her phone and patted her down under her shirt, legs and private areas.
The woman repeatedly asked what was happening and told the guards she had receipts from other stores for everything that was in her bags. She was locked in a cell while her belongings were searched in front of her, and a manager then brought her documents, told her to sign them and said if she paid $100 she could go home.
She was taunted about stealing during Ramadan, and when she began to cry, the manager told her the new price to go home would be $500. Her credit card was then removed from her wallet, without her consent, and charged the full $500.
On the word of the Macy’s people, when police arrived, the woman was arrested and charged with numerous theft crimes. Eventually all charges were dismissed.
Last week a Manhattan judge ruled that the original class action lawsuit can continue, including the Muslim womans, noting that Macy’s had abused the power retailers have under the state’s general “business and obligations” law.
Business owners can detain suspected shoplifters. The specifics of how detentions are to occur and the processes that will be used are different state by state. There is no law that allows a business to take the law into its own hands.
Paul A. Samakow is an attorney licensed in Maryland and Virginia, and has been practicing since 1980. He represents injury victims and routinely battles insurance companies and big businesses that will not accept full responsibility for the harms and losses they cause. He can be reached at any time by calling 1-866-SAMAKOW (1-866-726-2569), via email, or through his website.
His book “The 8 Critical Things Your Auto Accident Attorney Won’t Tell You” can be instantly downloaded, for free, on his website: http://www.samakowlaw.com/book.
Samakow has now also started a small business consulting firm. His new book “Step By Step, Achieve Small Business Success” is available at www.thebusinessanswer.com