Creative but – Is this covered by the ACA device tax?

Jose Delgado, Jr., a 53-year-old man born without most of his left hand, has given positive feedback about a $50 3D prosthetic hand. He talked about all it can help him do in a video that was presented by the person who helped make the hand. Delgado’s account, praising the hand for enabling good day to day functionality, made the rounds of tech sites this week. The story drew interest not only because this is a 3D-printed prosthesis but also because he said that, in a number of ways, he liked it better than his $42K myoelectric prosthesis. (A myoelectric-controlled prosthesis is an artificial limb that you control with the electrical signals generated naturally by your own muscles.) Delgado’s myoelectric hand tapped into muscle signals on his arm to trigger the closing or opening of the fingers.

Little hope for Venezuela.

Venezuelan government to resume negotiations with opposition on Thursday

Amazon takes a hit.

What if the only federal tax was a sales tax. I’m in favor of the FAIR Tax.

New research out of Ohio State University found that Amazon shoppers reduced their spending by 10% in states where the company has had to start charging sales tax.

Purchases of more than $300 also fell by 24%, according to the study, which we found on Bloomberg.

More states have started to push to collect taxes on Internet purchases in an effort to treat online and offline retailers equally and, often, to make more revenue to cover budget shortfalls.

Amazon has fought these rulings, and instead supports federal legislation that would let states require sales tax from all e-commerce sites above a certain size. That makes sense, because Amazon’s loss of sales led to a 20% increase for competing online retailers. If Amazon has to collect taxes, other large e-commerce sites should have to, too, the company argues.

It should go only to those nations that have ‘freedom of speech’.

Officials from the Departments of Commerce and State are headed to Brazil this week to discuss the future of Internet governance.

While attending the NETMundial conference in Brazil this week, the federal officials will discuss Internet governance issues, which will include working on a plan for the U.S. government to relinquish its oversight role of the technical side of the Internet’s Web address system.

The group going includes White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Michael Daniels, Commerce Department Assistant Secretary Larry Strickling and Ambassador Daniel Sepulveda from the State Department, according to a blog post from the Commerce and State Departments published Monday.

The meeting in Brazil comes after the Commerce Department announced earlier this year that it would be relinquishing its oversight role of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which manages the technical side of the domain name system.

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Apple security patches.

Anyway, Apple seems to be getting somewhere towards half way there.

You still can’t tell when you’re going to get your next update, but serious security fixes do seem to be coming more frequently these days.

Like the latest round of patches, published on 22 April 2014 (a Tuesday, as it happens) for Apple OS X, Apple iOS and Apple TV.

Apple TV goes from 6.1 to 6.1.1 and iOS goes from 7.1 to 7.1.1, while OS X versions keep their old numbers but receive Security Update 2014-002.

As with other recent OS X updates, only Lion (10.7), Mountain Lion (10.8) and Mavericks (10.9) get patches.


Shales on the demise of the ACA.

Some time in the coming months, the Supreme Court will hand down its opinion in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, the case of the retailer that claims that its religious freedom or that of its employees is violated by contraceptive coverage required as part of the Affordable Care Act. The attitude of the health-care act’s supporters toward such cases is irritation. How dare a little religious case trip up the mighty Affordable Care Act and jeopardize the ACA’s establishment as permanent law of the land?

Cases involving religious details, however, do have a way of stopping big social legislation, and not only because they violate the principles of the religious denominations involved. Regardless of the Court’s decision, even pro-choice Jews, Unitarians, and Muslims may eventually change their views on the ACA precisely because of Hobby Lobby and cases like it.

To see how this might happen, it helps to go back to a case involving a commensurately ambitious piece of legislation, Franklin Roosevelt’s 1933 National Industrial Recovery Act.

Day by Day

What you think.

This kind of daily occurrence must start to wear on you.

IDF Targets Sites In Gaza After Morning Rocket Fire

After rockets were fired on Negev communities earlier today, Israel’s Air Force targetted numerous sites in the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s Air Force attacked a number of targets in the Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire earlier this morning at communities near the Gaza Strip. At this time, there are no known casualties.

Flowers as food.

Common edible flowers in China are rich in phenolics and have excellent antioxidant capacity, research has shown. Edible flowers, which have been used in the culinary arts in China for centuries, are receiving renewed interest. Flowers can be used as an essential ingredient in a recipe, provide seasoning to a dish, or simply be used as a garnish. Some of these flowers contain phenolics that have been correlated with anti-inflammatory activity and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.

Stranger and stranger …

The world’s biggest tech companies are currently dealing with a class-action lawsuit that accuses them of colluding to keep employees’ wages down.

The companies — Apple, Google, Adobe, etc. — were accused of having no-poaching agreements so they wouldn’t hire each others’ employees. The case could be settled for anywhere between $3 billion and $9 billion this week.

When the case is finalized, employees of companies could be rewarded with thousands of dollars in compensation.

However, one person is going to miss out on his chance to collect the money. Brandon Marshall, “who helped set in motion a class-action lawsuit against the companies,” according to The New York Times, died last December when he was shot by a sheriff’s deputy.

Facial recognition – coming soon to a shopping mall near you

Technology giant NEC’s Hong Kong branch is promoting a small, “easy to install” appliance which will enable businesses to monitor their customers based on facial recognition.

From a recent NEC press release:

The new Mobile Facial Recognition Appliance enables organizations in any industry to offer an ultra-personalized customer experience by recognizing the face of each and every customer as soon as they set foot on the premises.

Face recognition is becoming ever more sophisticated and accurate, bringing automated detection and tracking of people by the way they look within reach of all sorts of people.

A new species of IOS malware.

You may have heard mention, over the past few days, of some curiously-named new iOS malware.

You’ll hear it called Unflod, because of the name of the file in which is was found, as well as Baby Panda.

The company that refers to it as Baby Panda offers a possible explanation for the name “Unflod,” suggesting a deliberate misspelling of a non-malicious utility known as “Unfold.”

The reason for the name Baby Panda, however, remains a mystery.

The good news is you aren’t very likely to come across it.

A constant danger.

Stepped-up demands from liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans are threatening the prospects for legislation to revive and reform the private mortgage market, six years after it collapsed and largely disappeared during the Great Recession.

As a result, many see an increasing likelihood that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-run housing finance giants that required massive bailouts at the height of the financial crisis, but which have served a critical role in keeping the mortgage market up and running since then, may escape the death sentence that political leaders laid down just a few years ago.

While a bipartisan bill has emerged in the Senate to gradually phase out Fannie and Freddie and their dominant roles underwriting and guaranteeing prime mortgages since the government took control of them in 2008, liberal Democrats now want to add mandates that would require private lenders to offer loans to Hispanics, blacks and other disadvantaged groups. If successful, that likely would kill the fragile support for the bill from Republicans, who blame such mandates for causing the 2008 crisis in the first place.

NRO and California. Slideshow.

Supreme court decision on ‘affirmative action’.

The Supreme Court has upheld Michigan’s ban on using race as a factor in college admissions.

The justices said in a 6-2 ruling Tuesday that Michigan voters had the right to change their state constitution to prohibit public colleges and universities from taking account of race in admissions decisions. The justices said that a lower federal court was wrong to set aside the change as discriminatory.

Hmmm … I think I see a problem.

Good idea.

I actually made one of these years ago and it still sits under the saw.

New tool for an old job.

Easter in Rome.

It’s not the taxes – it’s the waste.

Scalia to students on high taxes: At a certain point, ‘perhaps you should revolt’

The longest-serving justice currently on the bench answered the student by saying that the government has the constitutional right to implement the tax, “but if it reaches a certain point, perhaps you should revolt.”

Justice Scalia continued to tell the students that they have every right to express criticism of the government.

Video at the link.

It could be a long campaign.

Harry Reid isn’t backing down from his claim that rancher Cliven Bundy’s supporters are “domestic terrorists.”

It’s astonishing rhetoric given the White House’s characterization of the mass shooting by a genuine terrorist, Major Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 Americans at the Fort Hood Army base after yelling “Allahu Akbar!” (God is great.) Rather than labeling Hasan’s actions “domestic terrorism,” the Obama administration is prosecuting him for having committed “workplace violence.”

Democratic rhetoric is become ever more desperate and overheated as we approach the November midterm elections. Last week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that GOP positions on immigration were motivated by racism. She was followed by Representative Steve Israel, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who said, “To a significant extent, the Republican base does have elements animated by racism.” Even some leftists, such as Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post, have rebuked the excess of these attacks. Referring to Democrats’ use of the “equal pay” issue to buttress claims that Republicans are waging “a war on women,” Marcus wrote, “The level of hyperbole — actually of demagoguery — that Democrats have engaged in here is revolting.”

You just paid your taxes, and this is what you bought

Now that you’ve paid your taxes.

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