5 x 8: Americans on privacy: ‘meh’

1) THE GENIE WHO WON’T GO BACK IN THE BOTTLE

CBS News is reporting what a lot of people — but apparently not enough — already suspected. Whatever the National Security Agency does is nothing compared to what firms like Google do.

Millions of people use Google’s free programs and that’s the catch. It’s free, and when programs are free, the chances are pretty good that the currency is your data. That people aren’t bothered by that reveals either (a) people either don’t read the terms of service that they’re required to approve, or (b) people don’t care that their data is used. The price of the program is the value of the data.

“The National Security Agency is focused by law, outside of the U.S. If an American knew that literally someone knew every place they went, everybody they were talking to, where, when, and however, they would freak out,” Scott Cleland, who studies Google, told the network.

Or maybe they wouldn’t. Maybe they’d just shrug. Like they have so far.

But people feel different when it’s the government. A new poll shows most Americans disprove of the government collecting phone records of American people. But check closely and, again, the poll often breaks down along party lines. Democrats are evenly split on the practice.

Credit: CBS News

Republicans and Independents, on the other hand, dislike the practice by a wide majority. Curiously, however, the percentage of people who are concerned about losing their privacy via government surveillance is roughly the same across all political parties.

But only a third of those surveyed are concerned that their own personal communications could be monitored, suggesting that the “if you’re not a terrorist what are you worried about” philosophy that ushered in the Patriot Act still persists.

Coincidentally, Google is the first company to appear on camera denying that it allows the government direct access to its data. It sent a letter yesterday to the feds asking for permission to say more than that.

What can you do to avoid losing your privacy online? Probably not much, this Slate article suggests, since there is really is no difference between the physical you and the virtual you.

More privacy: In a Chicago suburb, a teacher told students the Fifth Amendment means they didn’t have to fill out a school survey on drug and alcohol abuse because the survey forms had their names on it. The school board told him to be quiet. (Chicago Tribune)

2) THE ‘D’ WORD

And now derecho? That figures. Everything else has been thrown our way this spring. Paul Huttner reports that the National Weather Service has been tracking a weather pattern that could result in derecho in some major Midwest cities between now and Thursday morning.

To be a derecho, it must produce damaging winds (58 mph or higher) along most of its length, and be at least 240 miles. The Washington Post’s meteorologist came down hard on people using “the D word” yesterday. “Not because I don’t see some potential in the pattern, but because it seems like some are throwing the word around too casually since last year when they don’t happen that often and are difficult to predict at long lead times,” Jason Samenow said.

You may recall that last year there was a derecho that disrupted power for more than a week.

Still unclear in all the forecasts for an unusual event. What exactly do you weather types want us to do about it? How does one reasonably prepare for a derecho?

3) BLAMING THE VICTIM

According to KARE 11, 41-year-old Tajreed Rich, a Robbinsdale Cooper High Student School employee, knew that a 17 year old girl was a vulnerable student, but he ended up having sexual intercourse with her anyway, the TV station reports.

Police were called to a home in Robbinsdale on Friday, June 7, by the father of the alleged victim. He told officers he returned home unexpectedly around 3 p.m. that day, heard noise from his daughter’s bedroom and went upstairs to check. The man said the door was open, his daughter was laying naked on her bed and 41-year-old Tajreed Rich was standing over her. Rich was also naked.

The victim’s father recognized Rich from Robbinsdale Cooper High School, where he worked in the attendance office, as a hall monitor and member of the football staff.

Robbinsdale Public School District 281 released a statement on the case.

“This is a horrible incident, and the district finds acts such as this reprehensible. The safety and well-being of our students is our top priority, and our hearts go out to the family during this time. Robbinsdale Area Schools and Cooper High School are working closely with police on this matter, and we will continue to support Cooper students and families during this time.”

Let’s hope Robbinsdale does a better job of supporting someone than the people of Elmwood, Indiana have done. A 13-year-old girl was raped by a 17-year-old. She’s pregnant and will give birth next month. The rapist has been free since he was convicted of the charges, filed under the juvenile justice system. He was to be sentenced yesterday, but the case was delayed again.

“I can’t walk out the door without someone calling me a whore or slut,” the girl tells the Indianapolis Star. “I used to have a lot of friends, or people I thought were my friends, but as soon as this happened I just isolated myself.”

The family’s home has been vandalized, with “whore” and “slut” spray painted on it.

4) LET THE BERATING BEGIN

School’s out and summer recreational games are the order of the day for many Minnesota kids. And many kids work as umpires and referees. But apparently, some parents don’t let that get in the way of their abusive behavior at the games.

“Statewide, the sport (soccer) loses more than half of its youth referees from year to year. Every year in Minnesota, about 1,700 new referees need to be trained to replace them,” writes Duluth News Tribune copy editor Beverly Godfrey in an op-ed today. “It would be fair to say I was incensed two years ago when I discovered a parent had posted a YouTube video mocking my son after he had worked his second game ever as a 12-year-old. On a field full of energetic 7-year-olds, a boy ran too fast, stumbled and crashed into another player. What my son saw in the moment was a kid tripping. Looking at the video, he agrees with his boss that a foul should have been called. But YouTube? Seriously?”

5) TIP THE PILOT?

Regional airline pilots don’t make much money but if they don’t do their job well, people die. When’s the last time you tipped someone who does a job in which people could die if they did a poor job?

The blog Tip the Pilot makes a case for tucking a few bucks into the pilots claws on the way out the door.

I’m not saying you’ve got to shell out 20% of your ticket price or anything, but as for me, I’m fine with slapping a five-spot to the pilot in any circumstance that doesn’t end with me pinned underneath the fuselage in a forest clearing, chewing on the seared leg-flesh of my seatmate to stay alive for another 10 hours. Seriously, man — take this $5 spot, and thank you very, very much for a job well-done.

Even if a mere 20 passengers did this per flight, that’s $100 per flight. I read that regional jets fly somewhere between 3 and 5 flights per day, so let’s settle on four, and that makes $400 per day of flying. And if the pilots are flying, say, 15 days per month, that’s $6,000 extra per month. Even if you split the take 50-50 with the copilot, that’s an extra $3,000 per month, $36,000 per year. That doubles Bridget’s salary, and, quite frankly, ought to make you feel a lot better about Bridget staying focused on doing her job well and not fretting about the rent and the electric bill and her kid’s college tuition and getting her car fixed and funding her 401(k), etc. (For the record, I don’t know Bridget — she could be the wealthy great niece of Leona Helmsley for all I know, but it’s all about the principle).

Bonus I: We should consider why we rather admire someone who fits this description. “He had lived in someone else’s woods, undetected under camouflage-colored tarps and completely off the grid; he paid no taxes, had no address and never used a cellphone. He told the police that he had not spoken during his decades of self-exile except for one day in the 1990s when he uttered a greeting to a passing hiker.” (New York Times)

http://youtu.be/77nUOAAuOD0

Bonus II: The Golden Valley City Council considered ending its tradition of saying the Pledge of Allegiance before Council meetings. It wasn’t a long tradition; they only started staying it last year. These sorts of discussions are always filled with irony. “As a United States citizen, it’s something we should have to say,” one man in the KSTP report said. Hours after it aired, the Council rejected the idea.

TODAY’S QUESTION
What have you learned about preparing for retirement?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: The balance of privacy vs. freedom.

Second hour: The power of spending less. Guest: Chris Farrell.

Third hour: William Moyers and David Sheff join The Daily Circuit for an intimate look at addiction and coming clean. Moyers is known for his advocacy and sharing his personal story of addiction and recovery while Sheff writes from his perspective as a parent of an addict.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): On the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights activist Medgar Evers, hear an American RadioWorks documentary, “State of Siege: Mississippi Whites and the Civil Rights Movement.”

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – Lawmakers take up immigration on the hill, Senate candidates are set in New Jersey, Virginia voters head to the polls, and congress takes sides in the Edward Snowden leak case. Political Junkie Ken Rudin joins host Neal Conan. Plus, political speechwriting duo Paul Glastris and Peter Robinson are back.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Twin Cities home sales out today continue to reflect a tight market. In a big reversal from the days of the housing crisis, the demand for homes in the Twin Cities is far outstripping the historically low number of homes for sale. As a result, real estate agents are figuring out creative ways to entice reluctant would-be sellers to come off the fence. Annie Baxter reports.

MPR Dan Olson follows Madeleine Linck, a veteran Three Rivers Parks naturalist as she heads out into the exurban areas of the Twin Cities to volunteer for the spring count of frogs and toads for the Minnesota DNR’s annual survey.