Hertz So Good

Hertz Rentals has placed car cameras in approximately 13% of its rental fleet. They claim that the cameras are not being used, and that they have no plans currently for using them.

Hertz added the camera as a feature of the NeverLost 6 in the event it was decided, in the future, to activate live agent connectivity to customers by video. In that plan the customer would have needed to turn on the camera by pushing a button (while stationary),” Hertz spokesperson Evelin Imperatrice explained. “The camera feature has not been launched, cannot be operated and we have no current plans to do so.”

hertzcam

This makes absolutely no sense. Why spend money adding cameras to your rental, when you don’t plan to use them. That would be a complete waste of money. Hertz probably already has a reason for installing the cameras, and reasons that are not helpful to the customer. I doubt that Hertz is really planning to use the cameras as a way to talk to renters about their car. No, the camera is probably there to monitor customers for mistreating the car and letting others drive.

According to the Fusion article:
In a 2013 blog post titled “Peace of Mind,” a developer involved in a Hertz hackathon wrote about using the in-car camera along with other sensors in the car to detect an accident and immediately get a customer a new vehicle. In the post, he included two screen shots of a live call, but Hertz spokesperson Imperatrice said everything done for the hackathon event was “essentially a mock-up.” “Even the video that appears to be from inside the car was not from a NeverLost,” she said.

But this raises a couple of issues. Wouldn’t Hertz be liable for wrecks occurring during videoconferencing while driving? Isn’t videotaping someone without their consent illegal in some states? What about minors, especially children and infants changing clothes or going to the bathroom in the car or van? When my daughter was a toddler and preschooler, it was easier to have a potty in the back of the van for her to use. Wouldn’t this leave Hertz liable for child porn charges if children are being videotaped without their clothes?

None of this makes any sense. The only reason that Hertz would be putting the camera in is to try to recover monetary damages from renters. It seems that few customers want a camera watching them drive. On the contrary, this may drive away some customers. But I have a solution, simply place a sticky note over the camera, or perhaps place a photo in front of the camera and have some fun. Also, I wonder how hard it would be to get images from the camera, or for that matter, any camera in any Hertz rental?

Trump and Putin Sitting in a Tree

tppu

Trump and Putin sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love [money], then comes marriage [taking down NATO], then comes baby in a baby carriage [Russia taking the Baltic States].

Donald Trump is now the official nominee of the Republican party in the United States. In the past year, there have been disturbing hints of unusually close ties between the Trump family and the Russian government.

Over the last year there has been a recurrent refrain about the seeming bromance between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. More seriously, but relatedly, many believe Trump is an admirer and would-be emulator of Putin’s increasingly autocratic and illiberal rule. But there’s quite a bit more to the story. At a minimum, Trump appears to have a deep financial dependence on Russian money from persons close to Putin. And this is matched to a conspicuous solicitousness to Russian foreign policy interests where they come into conflict with US policies which go back decades through administrations of both parties. There is also something between a non-trivial and a substantial amount of evidence suggesting Putin-backed financial support for Trump or a non-tacit alliance between the two men.

Now that Donald Trump is the official Republican party nominee, he and his campaign will be getting highly classified national security briefings. I guess its from the CIA, to Donald, to Manafort, to Trumps Russian investors, to Putin. Could Manafort even get any clearance at all? He’s worked for various dictators as well as the Pakistani Intelligence Services who have close ties to Al Qaeda. Paul Manafort may not want to get those briefings because having the clearance means he could get prison time if he fucks up and shares information.

The aides were rushed through an intense security-clearance process, and while the Trump campaign didn’t respond to an inquiry about which aide would join Trump in the briefings, people familiar with the process said it is difficult to imagine Manafort clearing such a process.

“Ties to Russia and the Kremlin would without question be a matter of concern. He’d have to explain in far more detail what the contact has been. That will have to be fleshed out in far more detail,” said Moss. “It would be difficult — but not impossible — to imagine security clearing him.”

A former Republican national security official put it more bluntly: “He’s an intelligence classification vetting nightmare scenario.”

And last week, during the run up to the Republican convention, the only time Trump’s campaign expressed any interest in international events was to strip out any support for an independent Ukraine.

Still, Republican delegates at last week’s national security committee platform meeting in Cleveland were surprised when the Trump campaign orchestrated a set of events to make sure that the GOP would not pledge to give Ukraine the weapons it has been asking for from the United States.

Inside the meeting, Diana Denman, a platform committee member from Texas who was a Ted Cruz supporter, proposed a platform amendment that would call for maintaining or increasing sanctions against Russia, increasing aid for Ukraine and “providing lethal defensive weapons” to the Ukrainian military.

“Today, the post-Cold War ideal of a ‘Europe whole and free’ is being severely tested by Russia’s ongoing military aggression in Ukraine,” the amendment read. “The Ukrainian people deserve our admiration and support in their struggle.”

Trump staffers in the room, who are not delegates but are there to oversee the process, intervened. By working with pro-Trump delegates, they were able to get the issue tabled while they devised a method to roll back the language.

On the sideline, Denman tried to persuade the Trump staffers not to change the language, but failed. “I was troubled when they put aside my amendment and then watered it down,” Denman told me. “I said, ‘What is your problem with a country that wants to remain free?’ It seems like a simple thing.”

Finally, Trump staffers wrote an amendment to Denman’s amendment that stripped out the platform’s call for “providing lethal defensive weapons” and replaced it with softer language calling for “appropriate assistance.”

Apparently Trump’s own party is outraged about Trumps remarks about not supporting our NATO allies.

Republicans are already reacting with outrage. “Totally insane,” is how former ambassador Eric Edelman describes the remarks. “He says he has been advised by Secretaries Baker and Kissinger but I find it hard to imagine that they would have recommended the things that he said in his New York Times interview. It would be totally contrary to everything they have written and the manner in which they conducted themselves in office.” He continued, “His comments have already undermined U.S. alliances, emboldened Russian revanchists, degraded our extended nuclear deterrent, threatened multiple trade wars that would beggar the international economy and destroy American prosperity.” Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute tells Right Turn, “Donald Trump is apparently the bastard stepchild of Charles Lindbergh and Barack Obama, at once embarrassed by American values and leadership, contemptuous of loyalty unless it’s to him, strangely drawn to dictators and utterly ignorant of history.” She added, “If this guy led another country, we’d be considering sanctions and fretting about his political enemies languishing in prison.”

When this story finally starts making more traction in the news, what will happen to the Republican’s Siberian candidate?

At some level, Mr. Trump’s motives shouldn’t matter. We should be horrified at the spectacle of a major-party candidate casually suggesting that he might abandon American allies — just as we should be horrified when that same candidate suggests that he might welsh on American financial obligations. But there’s something very strange and disturbing going on here, and it should not be ignored.

And the right is also getting worried about Trump’s Russian connections of Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and retired Lt. Gen Michael Flynn.

Honest and patriotic Republicans who support Trump, or are tempted to do so, should review some of the publicly available evidence. Trump’s business seems to be heavily dependent on Russian investment. His top campaign advisor, Paul Manafort, was the advisor to the Putin-backed stooge Viktor Yanukovich, and has deep ties to the Putin apparat. One of Trump’s national security advisors, retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, was paid to give a speech at a Russian propaganda celebration and was seated next to Putin. Trump’s Russia advisor Carter Page, who does much of his business with Russian companies, has argued, among other things, that “a few officials in Washington” annexed Ukraine and that the “so-called annexation” of Crimea by Russia was a rational response to this injustice.

I sincerely hope that the Republican party rethinks its current selection of the Donald Trump as its nominee. As a left leaning independent, I’m horrified that a major national political party did so little vetting on its nominee.

Making America Safe Again

This election has gone off the rails. Today on Raw Story, I saw the following news items:

  1. http://www.rawstory.com/2016/05/see-the-face-of-american-fascism-decoding-sheriff-joe-arpaios-anti-bestiality-video/ Sheriff Joe Arpaio actually makes a video imploring people not to have sex with their animals. Who knew this was a problem in Arizona? I think the man is getting senile.
  2. http://www.rawstory.com/2016/05/oklahoma-lawmakers-call-state-of-emergency-to-stop-trans-kids-from-using-the-restroom/ A State of Emergency? Really? Over a couple of kids?
  3. http://www.rawstory.com/2016/05/not-crazy-kansas-anti-abortion-group-demands-lawmakers-oppose-mythical-human-animal-hybrids/ Words fail me on this one. Some morons are in desperate need of a science class.
  4. http://www.rawstory.com/2016/05/federally-funded-transphobic-christian-school-demands-to-see-birth-certificates-to-weed-out-kids/ Wow, and I thought Jesus’s message was one of loving everyone and not judging people. I guess not according to these people.

Here are some quotes from the above stories to illustrate how delusional these people are:

Here he denounces America’s latest nightmare – not migrants, not even Muslims, but zoophiles. Arpaio is leading a campaign against bestiality, dedicating resources to rounding up people who abuse animals. In this video he presents it with the grimmest severity as a national crisis that he alone has the courage to face. He seems gripped by Jesuitical fury. This is a campaign for the national soul. Arpaio wrings his white hands repeatedly, kneads and unkneads his fingers, as he denounces dog abusers with all the dramatic intensity of senator Joe McCarthy going after communists.

and

“It being immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety, an emergency is hereby
declared to exist, by reason whereof this act shall take effect and be in full force from and after its passage and approval,” Senate Bill 1619 stated in part.

The measure, sponsored by state Sen. Brian Bingman and state House Speaker Jeff Hickman, restricts students around the state from using restrooms according to their gender identity, in direct opposition to the White House’s stance, announced earlier this month in response to similar legislation in North Carolina.

“This directive to schools is not only unlawful, but the breadth of overreach in this instance by the Obama Administration is shocking,” said state Rep. John Bennett (R). Bennett co-sponsored a concurrent resolution calling for the federal House of Representatives to impeach President Barack Obama regarding the issue.

and

“If we cannot legally refuse students who are struggling with homosexuality or gender identification, we must maintain our right to hold to the truths of God’s Word,” Breitkreutz wrote in the letter obtained by the New Republic. “In other words, although we do not have the right to refuse admittance to people choosing an outwardly sinful lifestyle, we do maintain the right to discipline and dismiss students for these choices.”

and

Kansans for Life has given candidates questionnaires asking where they stand on human cloning and on the creation of human-animal hybrids.

“Am I aware of it happening [in Kansas]? At this moment, no,” Kathy Ostrowski, the group’s legislative director told the Star. “But does that mean it’s not happening somewhere? I can’t tell you that.”

The group also asked candidates whether they would support legislation requiring invasive information from women seeking abortions, including “economic, educational and health history profiles and other relevant information, such as the stated reason for the abortion, from women obtaining abortions,” and also the collection of information about “fertility procedures, including the number of embryos created, implanted, destroyed, selectively reduced and retained.”

The conservative Christians have completely given in to their inner delusional fears on their quest to make America into some sort of gigantic safe space for their fantasies of racial, sexual, and political purity. I dread what this country would turn into if their desires were made into law. They make the Handmaid’s Tale and the medieval witchhunts look like a day at the spa. As a political progressive, I really hope that these idiots permanently tarnish the image of conservatism for many years in the future.