Duck Duck Go Independence Day

Duck Duck Go Independence Day — Here is an Independence Day Eve update regarding internet privacy  from DuckDuckGo, the excellent Pennsylvania-based search engine that is competing with Google and Bing.

The last few weeks have seen a lot of privacy news around the United States’ PRISM program. Some great alternatives to most affected services can be found here: http://prism-break.org/

We’d encourage you to join us along with Mozilla, reddit, the ACLU and others in seeking answers about these programs and calling for major reform: optin.stopwatching.us/

As part of this campaign, we’d like to alert you to in-person meet-ups happening around the U.S. (and beyond) this week. Please use this guide to locate your area’s closest rally: http://www.restorethefourth.net/protests/

In other privacy news, updates to the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) went into effect this past Monday. Some notable changes that strengthen privacy for kids online include:
-Cookies and other persistent identifiers are now covered under COPPA
-The definition of, “personal information” has been expanded to include geo-location data, photos, videos, and audio files of children.
-Additional methods by which service providers can obtain parental consent
-Expanded definitions of what’s considered a, “website or online service directed to children”

Here’s a video explaining more about the updates to COPPA: http://www.ftc.gov/video-library/index.php/for-businesses/privacy-and-security/protecting-childrens-privacy-under-coppa/2519304827001 and, if you’re looking for a more in-depth view, check out this page: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2012/12/coppa.shtm

Finally, if you’re interested in a bit of entertainment, check out the new film, Terms and Conditions May Apply: http://tacma.net/. This documentary makes its New York debut on July 12th with other cities and dates to follow. We had the opportunity to watch this and can say it’s worth seeing.

Thank you,

The DuckDuckGo Team

Duck Duck Go Independence Day

No Sugary Drinks For Food Stamps

No Sugary Drinks For Food Stamps

We recently experienced a “super moon,” an event where that celestial body is at its closest point to Earth all year.

As everyone knows, full moons bring out eccentric behavior in people. But this super moon was an extra doozy for me. Against all odds, I found myself agreeing with not just Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (first time ever), but 17 other big city mayors. Talk about strange bedfellows.

This Gang of 18 sent the federal government a letter requesting that soda and sugary drinks become ineligible purchases for those in the food stamps program (known as SNAP — Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). And since more people (47 million) receive food stamps than the population of Spain, that’s a big deal.

The mayors have the right idea, but to some extent, are pushing it for the wrong reason.

They are making their case to combat obesity and other health-related diseases, citing the huge health care costs associated with that enormous problem. While it’s noble trying to take a chunk out of obesity, this issue is much more basic.

When you’re on the public dole, there are strings attached. Period. And that’s exactly how it should be.

It’s totally irrelevant whether soda causes or contributes to diabetes, heart disease or obesity. Inarguably, there are no nutritional aspects to sugary drinks; So, given that the word “nutrition” appears in the program’s very name, allowing soda is contradictory.

Not surprisingly, many in the food stamp program have expressed righteous indignation with the mayors’ proposal, as have numerous advocacy groups. (Help me out with that one. Why do we need advocates for people receiving free food? Only in America.)

Talk about an entitlement mentality. Taxpayers foot the bill, and that’s still not enough. The expectation is that the recipient — not the donor — should be calling the shots.

Common sense tells us that those receiving generous SNAP benefits, courtesy of those who actually work for a living, should have no say whatsoever in what they can and cannot buy with food stamps. But too often they do, evidenced by the fact that this soda debate has raged for years with no action.

The same rationale applies to why welfare recipients should have to pass a mandatory drug test before receiving benefits. If those reaping taxpayers’ largesse don’t like the criteria by which they must comply, that’s fine. There’s a very simple alternative. As “The Big Lebowski” says, “Condolences. The bums lost. My advice is to do what your parents did. Get a job!”

Food stamp recipients aren’t the only ones opposed. The American Beverage Association has been whining that sugary drinks shouldn’t be singled out, stating that obesity is “a complex health condition that affects Americans of all income levels.” Hey, diet soda doesn’t contribute to obesity, but has no nutritional value, so it too should be banned from SNAP.

“Targeting struggling families who rely on (food stamps’) vital safety net will not make America healthier or reduce government spending,” it also stated.

Fantastic. If only that made any sense. But it doesn’t.

First, soda isn’t being singled out as the cause for obesity. We all know it’s the “thyroid problem” that all members of the fat brigade seem to have. Well, that, and the infinite supply of cheap, fattening comfort foods (along with soda) and the fact that it’s a lot easier to don sweatpants (as George Costanza says, a sign you’ve “given up”), and sit in your chair watching reality TV shows instead of going outside for a walk or, God forbid, work out once a week.

Attempts have also been made to ban candy and other zero-nutrition items from the food stamp program, to no avail, so the beverage folks need to sit down and shut up on this one. It’s not about soda. It’s about taxpayer money being spent unwisely.

And for the record, reduced government spending has nothing to do with it. The cost of the food stamp program won’t change because soda is banned. It just means people will have to use their gift card — and it is a gift card — on nutritional food.

Oh, and of course we’re “targeting” families on food stamps, because we can. Whom else should we target? Free market consumers using their own money? Notwithstanding New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s insane attempts to restrict soda portions, no one is doing that, nor should they. Sure, obesity is a national epidemic, and we are all paying for it at a skyrocketing rate, but you will never stop it with government bans. Personal responsibility, individual choices and suffering the consequences of bad decisions will, and should, rule the day.

But those things don’t apply, or at least they shouldn’t, when public assistance is involved.

Interestingly, some of the Right don’t agree with the mayors’ push, arguing that it is too paternalistic, too Big Brother for the government to tell people what they are permitted to buy. Others argue that such restrictions would discourage the needy from joining the program.

Really?

A. If you don’t apply for food stamp subsidies because you can’t buy grape soda, great. Don’t let the door hit you in your large posterior on the way out.

B. So what if it’s paternalistic? It obviously needs to be. You aren’t permitted to buy alcohol or cigarettes (though some still do), and you shouldn’t be hauling live lobsters home either. No one is saying you can’t buy sugary drinks — you just shouldn’t be able to do so with other people’s money.

This will be a fascinating political development to watch, as it is Democrats imploring other Democrats to put in place what is ultimately a Republican idea.

Knocking back the sense of entitlement, instilling accountability into a government program, teaching personal responsibility, and even making people a little healthier. Hopefully, all it will take is a spoonful of sugar to make that medicine go down.

No Sugary Drinks For Food Stamps

Food Stamps Corporate Greed

Food Stamps Corporate Greed — The tenderhearted souls who call themselves “progressives” and claim to want care for the poor– albeit always by someone else — are huge defenders of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) which is still often referred to as “food stamps” despite the benefits now being distributed by a plastic card.

SNAP benefits for a single person in Pennsylvania are maximized at $200 and they can be used to buy  soft drinks, candy, cookies, snack crackers, and  ice cream novelties.  Any attempt to restrict this program to things like fresh veggies, bulk grain and unsweetened dairy are met with shrieks and media stridency. You ever wonder who is paying for these shrieks and media stridency, and be sure that it is being bought although many of those doing the shrieking aren’t seeing the money?

Well, who is it that makes the soft drinks, and junk food? That’s right progressives, you are simple tools of corporate greed.

Ponder this: the asset/resource limit for SNAP in Pennsylvania is $5,500 or $9,000 for homes with a disabled or elderly member. If we were to halve the maximum — which would also be to roughly $75 for additional household members — yet limit what can be purchased to the healthy stuff that one has to prepare oneself, say like rice which costs about $20 for a 50 pound bag, you can double the resource limit and make a lot of needy people a lot better off.

As PepsiCo would not approve, though, don’t expect this to happen.

Food Stamps Corporate Greed

Food Stamps Corporate Greed

IHTPA Praises Pa. House; Slams Senate, Corbett

Here is a statement from the Independence Hall Tea Party Association regarding the weekend’s legislative activity in Harrisburg:

What a difference a day makes.

Just when we thought that our lawmakers were moving ahead with groundbreaking legislation, and the press reported it as such, we learn that it was all smoke and mirrors.

And so it was with the Pennsylvania Senate’s passage of the Liquor Privatization Bill.

The voting process began several months ago when the Pennsylvania House approved and sent to the Senate a much better privatization bill.  The House version was then virtually tossed aside while Senator Chuck Millinery (R-Bucks) and his colleagues rewrote almost the entire bill.

Still, there was a glimmer of hope left for privatization when the Senate passed its version by a vote of 27-23.

But in Harrisburg, Senate approved legislation must then clear the Appropriations Committee.

And even though Republicans are in the majority on the Committee, word is they won’t move on privatization unless the House passes $2.1 billion Transportation Bill that would increase the price of gas by at least $.30 a gallon.

The House, to its credit, also won’t budge.

So, what does this mean?  The PA Republican Senate would rather substantially raise taxes than support an effort to expand free enterprise in the Keystone State.

Bad news for Governor Tom Corbett who supports both the privatization and the transportation bills. Looks like, for now, the Governor is plum out of luck.

Hats off to the rank and file House Republicans for standing their ground against the pseudo Republicans that dominate the Senate, and, on the Transportation bill, the aloof Governor of our state.

Does Governor Corbett actually think the path to re-election is a $.30 or more tax increase on a gallon of gas?

We’ll find out in 16 months.

Hope to see you on the 4th.

On behalf of the Association Board,
Teri Adams

House GOP Saves Pa. From 28 Cent Per Gal Tax Hike

House State Government Committee Majority Chairman Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) issued the following statement  regarding final passage of Pennsylvania’s 2013-14 state budget.

“I voted for this year’s $28.4 billion state budget because in the
end it is a victory for limited government and limited government
spending.  For the third consecutive year, total spending growth falls
below the TABOR allowable growth rate of 2.54 percent by $59 million.
Best of all, fiscally-conservative House Republicans were able to hold the line and, ultimately, defeat Governor Corbett’s nearly $2 billion annual gas tax-driven transportation funding plan and a backdoor attempt by the state Senate to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare.

“No matter how you look at it, Medicaid expansion is a blatant attack on working taxpayers and a blatant violation of our Constitutional rights.  Pennsylvania needs to stand together with the states that have already rejected ObamaCare in full to protect our citizens’ freedoms and pockets from this accelerated spending nightmare.

“Rather than increasing taxes and fees to generate transportation
revenue out of the pockets of hard-working taxpayers, we should look to other areas ripe for cuts.   If we cut the Department of Public Welfare budget by 10 percent, more than $1 billion in revenue could be generated for necessary infrastructure improvements and repairs.  Using the money from the sale of the state liquor stores could also generate $1 billion.  Tax and fee increases are the wrong answer for funding roads and bridges.  I will continue my fight to protect taxpayers.”

House GOP Saves Pa. From 28 Cent Per Gal Tax Hike

House GOP Saves Pa. From 28 Cent Per Gal Tax Hike