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Obama Calls On Congress To Act On Gun Control 

Acting less than a week after the massacre of 26 people, including 20 young children and six adults, in a school in Newtown, Connecticut, President Barack Obama has ordered creation of a government-wide task force to come up with solutions to gun violence. Obama is taking advantage of continuing national horror over the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School to push forward what he called a “re-emerged” national discussion about gun violence, and to seek solutions. Vice President Joe Biden will lead the effort involving members of the president’s Cabinet, and outside organizations. Obama wants their recommendations no later than January and vows to act on them without delay. Obama has spoken with lawmakers in Congress, including gun-rights advocates from both parties who indicated they could support new restrictions on military-style rifles and large ammunition magazines. He said the fact that solutions to gun violence involves complex issues, including mental health and education, as well as passions on all sides should not be an excuse for inaction.

Scammers Try To Cash In On Newtown Shooting Tragedy

The family of Sandy Hook mass-shooting victim, Noah Ponzer,  have called on law enforcement authorities to seek out scammers trying to solicit donations in Noah’s memory, Fox News reports It’s a problem as familiar as it is disturbing. Tragedy strikes — be it a natural disaster, a gunman’s rampage or a terrorist attack — and scam artists move in. Noah Pozner’s relatives found out about one bogus solicitation when a friend received an email asking for money for the family. Poorly punctuated, it gave details about Noah, his funeral and his family. It directed people to send donations to an address in the Bronx, one that the Pozners had never heard of. It listed a New York City phone number to text with questions about how to donate. When a reporter texted that number Wednesday, a reply came advising the donation go to the United Way. Consumer groups, state attorneys general and law enforcement authorities call for caution about unsolicited requests for donations, by phone or email. They tell people to be wary of callers who don’t want to answer questions about their organization, who won’t take “no” for an answer, or who convey what seems to be an unreasonable sense of urgency.

FTC Gives Apple, Facebook A Pass On Children’s Privacy Apps

The Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday finally updated its aging rules governing how kids’ data is collected on the Internet, The Wall Street Journal reports. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act was passed by Congress in 1998, well before smartphone apps or social networks took off. The law’s rules will now be tailored to cover those areas as well, meaning apps and social networks will have to get parental consent to gather data from children. But in a retreat from a draft that was released last summer, the FTC won’t hold app stores like those run by Google and Apple responsible for privacy violations by the games and other software that is sold there. Similarly, Facebook is unlikely to be held responsible if the “Like” buttons it has distributed across the Web gather personal data from websites aimed at children. Facebook and other social networks would have to have “actual knowledge” that they are collecting data from kids for the Like button and other “plugins” to fall under the rules. The changes followed months of fierce lobbying by Internet and entertainment companies to reduce the impact of the proposed rule changes. Just last week, the FTC trained a spotlight on gaps in kids’ online privacy with a report that found hundreds of popular kids’ apps were collecting data without parental consent.

Russia Advances Law To Ban U.S. Adoptions

Russia’s parliament voiced strong support Wednesday for barring Americans from adopting Russian children, a retaliation against a new U.S. measure imposing penalties on Russian officials connected to the death in custody of a Moscow lawyer and other human rights violations. The proposed Russian law, which was overwhelmingly approved in a procedural vote Wednesday, would also place tight restrictions on nongovernmental organizations that receive financial support from the United States, banning the groups if they engage in political activities considered contrary to “Russia’s interests.” Russia was the third-largest source of international adoptions to the United States last year. The proposed adoption ban — which would take effect Jan. 1 and would sanction U.S. officials whom Moscow deems to have been implicated in the endangerment of Russian adoptees — must clear several hurdles before it becomes law. The proposed law must pass two more parliamentary hurdles before it can be forwarded to President Vladimir Putin for signing, but legislative leaders have signaled confidence that it will sail through. Top Putin allies, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, have expressed opposition to the legislation in recent days, but Putin has been less clear.

Madoff’s Younger Brother Faces Sentencing In Ponzi Scheme

Bernard Madoff’s younger brother is scheduled to face a U.S. judge on Thursday who will weigh whether to sentence him to 10 years in prison for his role in the multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme. Peter Madoff, 67, pleaded guilty in June to criminal charges including conspiracy to commit securities fraud and for falsifying books and records of the investment advisory company founded by his brother. He agreed at the time not to oppose a request by prosecutors for a maximum 10-year prison sentence and agreed to an order requiring him to forfeit a symbolic $143 billion, guaranteeing a loss of all of his assets and income. Of 13 individuals charged criminally in connection with the fraud, Peter Madoff is the only one, other than Bernard Madoff, who was a member of the Madoff family. Bernard Madoff, 74, was sentenced in 2009 to a 150-year prison term and ordered to forfeit $170.8 billion. Customers lost about $20 billion, according to the trustee charged with recovering money for the victims.

 

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