The heat scorching Mike Pence

In an earlier article, I described the quick blow-back that arose after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed into law a so-called “religious freedom” bill. The bill was little more than cover for businesses to discriminate.

Now the chickens are really coming home to roost and Pence is calling for legislative changes to the bill only days after it was passed.

Gov. Mike Pence, scorched by a fast-spreading political firestorm, told The Star on Saturday that he will support the introduction of legislation to “clarify” that Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not promote discrimination against gays and lesbians.

“I support religious liberty, and I support this law,” Pence said in an exclusive interview. “But we are in discussions with legislative leaders this weekend to see if there’s a way to clarify the intent of the law.”

And this happened:

Angie’s List CEO Bill Oesterle announced Saturday, March 28, 2015, the company will pull out of a pending expansion deal, which could’ve meant 1,000 local jobs, due to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The continuing blowback over Indiana’s new “religious freedom” law hit home Saturday, with Indianapolis-based Angie’s List announcing it is canceling a $40 million headquarters expansion.

The decision is a direct result of passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, co-founder and chief executive officer Bill Oesterle said Saturday.

The proposed expansion of the online consumer ratings service was touted to add 1,000 good-paying jobs over five years and help revitalize a struggling Eastside neighborhood.

“Angie’s List is open to all and discriminates against none,” Oesterle said, “and we are hugely disappointed in what this bill represents.”

* * *

[Oesterle] said he was soured by the way the governor handled the bill signing, excluding the press and public — then issuing a photograph of him surrounded by the bill’s supporters.

“That photograph told me everything I needed to know,” Oesterle said. “I’ve been on the other side of this issue with them for a long time, going back to the governor’s (Daniels’) campaign. That’s when I first became exposed to those people. The most prominent three figures standing directly behind the governor were those three individuals.”

Oesterle said he was referring to Micah Clark of the American Family Association of Indiana, Eric Miller of Advance America and Curt Smith of the Indiana Family Institute. The three groups have been strong and vocal backers of efforts to enshrine a same-sex marriage ban in the state constitution and other laws limiting the rights of gays.

“The state needs leadership on this issue,” Oesterle said. “I like Gov. Pence, but he’s got a blind spot on this (RFRA).”

FBI drops advice to use encryption

The FBI has for some time advised users to encrypt their devices for their own protection. Here is what the advice used to say:

DOWKRRa1

But now FBI director James Comey is launching an attack on all encryption. The above advice has been removed by the FBI. Needless to say, the original recommendations remain worthwhile.

Indiana Governor Pence signs “religious freedom” bill

Yesterday, Indian Governor Mike Pence signed a so-called “religious freedom” bill in a private ceremony.  The effect of the bill is viewed as allowing discrimination by businesses against LGBT customers and others. Similar bills have passed in other states.

Reaction to the bill was immediate. For example, Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, posted the following:

Also, NCAA chief Mark Emmert, who heads the organization which is based in Indiana and where the final four basketball playoffs will occur, offered the following statement:

The NCAA national office and our members are deeply committed to providing an inclusive environment for all our events.

We will work diligently to assure student-athletes competing in, and visitors attending, next week’s men’s Final Four in Indianapolis are not impacted negatively by this bill.

Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce.

In addition, Gen Con, a gaming community that has held large events in Indianapolis that draw over 50,000 attendees, wrote this letter of complaint to Governor Spence.

It remains to be seen whether the reactions will cause Indiana to repeal the law.

So sad

Via The Washington Post:

A French prosecutor said Thursday that the co-pilot of the doomed Germanwings flight appeared to want to “destroy the plane,” adding a stunning twist as the investigation shifted to a possible suicide dive that killed all 150 people aboard.

The statement came after reports that the recovered cockpit voice recorder indicated the pilot was locked out of the cockpit before the A320 slammed into the French Alps on Tuesday after an eight-minute descent.

The Marseille-based prosecutor, Brice Robin, said the flight recorder showed the co-pilot — identified as Andreas Lubitz — did not say a word once the captain left the cockpit, the Associated Press reported.

“It was absolute silence in the cockpit,” Robin said, despite reports that the audio had the sounds of someone — apparently the pilot — banging on the door.

Robin said the co-pilot had no known links to suspected terrorist groups, but noted the investigation remained wide open.

Tech firms and civil rights groups demand end to bulk data collection

Tech firms and civil rights advocates have sent a letter to Congress demanding an end to bulk data collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. That Act is set to expire on June 1 but may well be renewed.

Via the EFF:

The letter sends Congress a clear message: any bill to reform Section 215 must end mass collection, provide transparency requirements, and avoid adding any data retention or technology mandates. In the past we’ve defined ending bulk collection as a simple ban on mass spying. Similarly, groups like the Center for Democracy and Technology have noted that ending bulk collection means prohibiting the large-scale government collection and retention of non-public records about persons who are not connected to national security threats. Other groups, like the Open Technology Institute, have included the use of “an exclusive list of ‘unique’ identifiers” as a way to successfully end mass collection under Section 215.

You can read the full text of the letter here.

A must-read parody of auto dealers’ efforts to block direct Tesla sales

From Car and Driver, you really have to read this parody of the defenses raised by automobile dealers seeking to ban direct sales of Tesla vehicles.

Excerpt:

Dear Tesla,

I write to you from the law offices of Dwayne & Johnson on behalf of my client, the Totally Useful Retail Dealer Society. As the nation’s largest association of car dealers, my client objects to your omission of such dealers from your business plan. I hereby order you to cease and desist! Or just cease. Or desist. We can discuss the options. See, that’s a situation known as “negotiating.” Something you wouldn’t know much about, Tesla.

Allow me to explain the myriad ways in which your dealer-free sales approach is misguided. First of all, our research shows that 85 percent of car shoppers love going to the dealer, while 15 percent super-duper love it. [Note: Respondents to our survey  were all under the age of  8, and the words “car dealer”  were replaced with the words “Disney World,” a fact that was clearly explained in the fine print of Appendix 8c.]

I’m telling you, people love negotiating. Consumers hate having a clear, fixed price that everyone understands. The dealer-franchise model lets them feel as if they got a deal, while not really getting a deal. Everyone wins. And haggling over prices is deeply ingrained in American culture. I mean, Moroccan culture.

* * *

I’m telling you, Tesla, your customers need us. What happens when they’re driving their new Model S and a taillight goes out? Okay, yes, you’ll email them one to print on their home 3-D manufacturing apparatus. Tesla owners are pretty techy. What if that happened to a Lexus ES350 owner, though? Our research shows that Lexus owners visit the dealer an average of twice a month, for reasons including “bugs on the windshield” and “my grandson put the Skrillex disc in the radio and now I can’t get it out.”

Speaking of  Lexus, they’re on our side, just like every other car company. GM loves us, that’s for sure. GM stands shoulder to shoulder with dealers, united in opposition to Tesla’s franchise-flaunting ways. They issued a statement saying: “If we have to have dealers, then Tesla better damn well have some dealers. Sure, we’d love to just sell you a Cadillac direct on the internet, but our dealers won’t let us. Isn’t that crazy? We do the research and development and design and manufacturing, and we have factories and production lines and test tracks. And then some guys with bad coffee and overpriced wiper blades dictate how we can sell our products. It makes us so mad that sometimes we get passive-aggressive and punk them with something like the Cadillac ELR. You’re so good at selling, let’s see you try to sell that!”