Wednesday, July 30, 2014

IMM International Mini Meeting in Maidstone, Kent Showground, England, UK open to the public Sunday, August 3rd.

We don't have one but we know people who do. This looks like a bash! International Mini Meeting in Maidstone, Kent Showground, England, UK open to the public Sunday.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Privacy Invasions by Commercial Enterprises -- the Example of NVIDIA Update Components and Their Installation of a Hidden User, Updatuser

I was checking permissions on my home network today and found a new user -- Updatuser -- who had been granted permission to view my files, but not (knowingly) by me. Online research led to the finding that Updatuser was installed surreptitiously by NVIDIA (perhaps as part of checking an installation option, with unforseen privacy consequences).

I have nothing against that company and the following online chat with SEN at Nvidia technical support solved the problem of deleting Updatuser via a new, more limited "clean" installation of Nvidia driver software. Nvidia is to be commended for this example of their technical service. Well done.

However, the sneaking in of an unknown and "unconsented to" user (here Updatuser) by a commercial company is symptomatic of a trend in the digital world today whereby user privacy is being abused increasingly by private companies, e.g. by the networking companies, or by the massive totally unnecessary permissions demanded by apps -- apps which by default should be permitted only access to what is absolutely necessary for operation of the app.

With legislatures and courts populated by many apparently politically and religiously backward-yearning people possessed of limited digital knowledge and understanding, it is not surprising that little has been done in the legal world to solve these glaring privacy problems and abuses.

Too many people in government and the judiciary are simply too involved in trying to bring us back into the 18th century or into even more remote religious dark ages -- rather than turning their attention to solve the problems that we actually have today in our modern, contemporary world.

In any case, here is how to get rid of Updatuser (my chat with SEN at Nvidia today, July 29, 2014, with some minor typographical errors corrected)....
Status: Connected
Sen (Responding)
Sen: Hi, my name is Sen. How may I help you?
Andis Kaulins: how do I delete UpdatUser which has been installed on my Acer laptop without my permission and apparently stems from Nvidia ... this is no way to do business.
Sen: I apologize for the inconvenience caused to you. Please be assured that I will do my best to help you or point you in the right direction.
Andis Kaulins: so you are a computer not a person, is that right?
Sen: “NVIDIA Update Components” is used to provide you notification, whenever there is any newer driver version.
Sen: Right
Andis Kaulins: delete Updatuser
Sen: I am sorry, I am a human
Andis Kaulins: then how do I delete Updatuser?
Sen: When you select "Perform Clean Installation" while installing the driver, it will automatically remove the older driver, then it restarts the PC (if required) and installs the new driver.
Sen: try "Perform Clean Installation" with unchecking “NVIDIA Update Components”
Sen: Let me know the Operating System (Windows XP/ Vista/ 7 / 8 ) with the version (32 or 64 bit).
Andis Kaulins: Perform Clean Installation - where is it found?
Andis Kaulins: I am going to make a blog posting about this.
Andis Kaulins: 64 bit Windows 8
Sen: 1. Right click on empty space of your screen.
2. Open NVIDIA Control Panel.
3. Click on "System Information" from the left bottom corner.
4. Let me know the driver version.
5. What is the NVIDIA GPU model under "Items" in the left side of that same window ?
Andis Kaulins: GeForce GT 750M
Andis Kaulins: Driver 327.02
Andis Kaulins: API version 11.1
Sen: Thank You for this information. Please close all other windows open except this chat window.
Sen: Please download and save the Driver on the "desktop" using the following link:
While installing the drivers, Make sure that you select "custom" installation and then check all the options including "perform a clean install".
Sen: You may "Uncheck" those "3D Vision", "3D Vision Controller", “NVIDIA Update Components” and "NVIDIA HD Audio" options, since you are not using them.
Andis Kaulins: what do you mean that I should save it on desktop and how can I use the link if I have closed the browser?
Sen: You need to open a new browser
Andis Kaulins: ok, the url page says GeForce 337.88 Driver, is that correct?
Sen: Correct
Sen: Just like this picture :
Andis Kaulins: ok, thank you - your company has several options - if you sneak in a special user, you have to inform THE USER about that beforehand and ask for his or her consent, otherwise in my opinion this is clearly illegal --- I also do not see why Updatuser is then listed as free to view all my files, which is not necessary for simple updates -- something is wrong there as a matter of invasion of privacy -- please pass that on to the people who run your company -- there are other manufacturers and I am unlikely to buy Nvidia in the future -- you, however, have done a fine job of informing me, thank you!
Sen: I will forward your message to developer department
Andis Kaulins: my options to check -- they automatically shifted me to the German version -- Grafiktreiber (graphics driver), NVIDIA GeForce Experience, and PhysX-Systemsoftware
Andis Kaulins: should I check all of them?
Andis Kaulins: instead of "custom" the German version uses "new installation" for the other checkmark
Sen: Please see the picture I have sent above"
After the new "clean" installation of the Nvidia dirver, Updatuser has apparently been removed. I am keeping my fingers crossed that it remains that way. I might add that I also checked on the "NVIDIA GeForce Experience" and on the "PhysX-Systemsoftware" both of which I determined I do not need. Some gamers may. However, please be aware that checking one or both of those options may -- and probably does -- reinstall Updatuser.

European History: From Bouvines to the Magna Carta: The Origins of British and American Law

The most important battle you've probably never heard of helped pave the way to the Magna Carta and ultimately to our modern democratic system of laws. Hugh Schofield reports at BBC News, writing inter alia:

""Bouvines is the most important battle in English history that no-one has ever heard of," says John France, professor emeritus in medieval history at Swansea University.
"Without Bouvines there is no Magna Carta, and all the British and American law that stems from that. It's a muddy field, the armies are small, but everything depends on the struggle. It's one of the climactic moments of European history."

Friday, July 11, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court Decision Damages Boundary Between Church and State

Is Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, 573 U.S. ___, 2014 WL 2921709, 2014 U.S. LEXIS 4505, 123 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. (BNA) 621, perhaps the worst decision of the U.S. Supreme Court ever?

It certainly ranks right up there.

We tried to find "less restrictive" words but alas... what else can one do when confronted with the Supreme Court's psychedelic surrealist holding that a commercial for-profit corporation is a person entitled to private, religious exemptions for "devoutly" held beliefs -- a complete jurisprudential novelty in American law that defies the prudent legal mind.

Talk about inexcusable judicial activism and judge-made law. This is it.

One of the disturbing things about narrow "majorities" on the U.S. Supreme Court is that when they judge badly, as they have in the 5-4 Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. decision, such ATROCIOUS jurisprudence is likely to negatively pervade society and the legal systems in the USA and the world for years to come.

The Hobby Lobby decision has inflicted massive injury on the doctrine of the separation of Church and State and the nation has been severely damaged at its core, putting the country further on the path to becoming a Near-East-like confrontational battleground of religious beliefs rather than being a civilized community governed by and adhering to temporal, non-religious Rule of Law.

It must be added that Hobby Lobby is not a case about some small insignificant "closely held" company of no consequence. This is "big time".

As pointed out by Linda Greenhouse at the New York Times in Reading Hobby Lobby in Context, taking facts out of the case opinion:
"Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., [is] a multibillion-dollar corporation with 13,000 employees in some 500 locations. Given the undisputed sincerity of the religious beliefs of Hobby Lobby’s Evangelical Christian owners, the company couldn't be required to comply with the mandate to include contraception coverage in its employee health plan, according to the majority opinion by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.
Some months ago, Adam Liptak of the New York Times already foresaw the potentially widespread and harmful negative consequences of such a bad ruling in the Hobby Lobby case at Ruling Could Have Reach Beyond Issue of Contraception, quoting former acting solicitor general, Walter Dellinger:
"We would be entering a new world in which, for the first time, commercial enterprises could successfully claim religious exemptions from laws that govern everyone else," Mr. Dellinger said.
As Justice Ginsburg now has written in her powerful dissent in Hobby Lobby, joined by Justices Sotomayor, Breyer and Kagan:
"In a decision of startling breadth, the Court [majority, 5-4] holds that commercial enterprises, including corporations, along with partnerships and sole proprietorships, can opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.... Compelling governmental interests in uniform compliance with the law, and disadvantages that religion-based opt-outs impose on others, hold no sway, the Court decides, at least when there is a “"less restrictive alternative."” And such an alternative, the Court suggests, there always will be whenever, in lieu of tolling an enterprise claiming a religion-based exemption, the government, i.e., the general public, can pick up the tab [i.e. it is OK for those who may hold a different religious belief to have to pay for the exemption-claimer -- absurd!].... [bracketed material and material in red added by LawPundit]
. . .
Until this litigation, no decision of this Court recognized a for-profit corporation'’s qualification for a religious exemption from a generally applicable law.... The absence of such precedent is just what one would expect, for the exercise of religion is characteristic of natural persons, not artificial legal entities. As Chief Justice Marshall observed nearly two centuries ago, a corporation is “"an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law.”" Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 4 Wheat. 518, 636 (1819).  Corporations, Justice Stevens more recently reminded, “"have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires.”"  Citizens United v. Federal Election Comm'’n, 558 U. S. 310, 466 (2010) (opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part)."
It is remarkable to this observer that men (and that could be an After Hobby Lobby issue) of such presumably high intelligence -- not joined by any of the women on the court in their decision -- can so poorly appreciate the necessity for drawing a strict line between the State and ANY church, ANY religion, and ANY religious belief, credo, or superstition, no matter how "devoutly" held.

Many of us out here "devoutly" feel we should not have to follow any number of laws enforced by governments. But devout feelings have nothing to do with law, either in terms of extra freedoms of speech or extra freedoms of religion.

We support freedom of speech.
Speak your mind. Write what you will.
But be prepared to take the consequences of your actions if 3rd parties are affected.

We support freedom of religion.
Worship in the church of your choice.
Believe what you will.
But do not push your religious beliefs upon 3rd parties or have them pay what should be YOUR fair share of payment in this world. Money is not religion.

In temporal affairs, according to the "Rule of Law", the temporal STATE is paramount in its sovereignty and cannot be permitted to tolerate ANY competitors, from any quarter, especially not from religions and sects.

That is the essence of the doctrine of separation of Church and State, a doctrine which has almost single-handedly enabled our modern world to emerge out of the many war-filled religion-dominated dark ages of humanity.

The sovereign American STATE is prohibited by its Constitution from applying laws discriminatorily based upon the religious views of its citizens.

Indeed, few things establish religion MORE than PREFERENTIAL treatment of religions in the eyes of the law, and that kind of establishment of religion is absolutely prohibited by the U.S. Constitution. NO PREFERENCES. NONE.

Once again in this case, self-proclaimed "originalist" judges such as Justice Scalia have ignored one of the clearest and most original mandates of the U.S. Constitution in order to obtain a legally contraceptive result which "they like", but which has nothing to do with true freedom of religion or with proper interpretation of the provisions of the U.S. Constitution.

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