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Too Many Cigarette Stores In NYC

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There are nearly 9,000 stores selling cigarettes in New York City, according to a new report by the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, which says the city is “oversaturated” with cigarette retailers.

The 8,992 stores licensed to sell tobacco citywide include 2,725 in Brooklyn, 2,196 in Manhattan, 2,117 in Queens, 1,542 in the Bronx, and 412 on Staten Island.

The heaviest concentration of tobacco sellers is in Midtown Manhattan, where there are 62 for every 10,000 people, followed by the Financial District, where there are 25. That compares to a citywide average of 10 stores for every 10,000 people.

Outside Manhattan, the highest rates are in lower-income neighborhoods in the South Bronx and north and central Brooklyn, the report found — the same neighborhoods likely to have higher smoking rates. Hunts Point in the Bronx has 17 stores for every 10,000 people, and Mott Haven and Belmont in the Bronx and Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick in Brooklyn each have 16. A  bill was introduced in the City Council earlier this month to set a cap on the number of tobacco sellers in each neighborhood at half the number now existing, and bar issuing any new licenses until the number of stores has fallen below the cap. Smoking kills about 12,000 people a year in the city, making it the top preventable cause of death.

Vaping Industry Will Have Same Regulations As Tobacco Cigarettes

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The Food and Drug Administration will now treat electronic cigarettes and related tobacco products such as hookahs and cigars the same as traditional cigarettes. The move is expected to have a profound impact on those who make, sell and buy vaping products. Businesses who manufacture vaping products will be required to seek FDA approval before selling their wares. What’s more, manufacturers will now have to apply warning labels on their items regarding the addictive properties of nicotine. Sales to minors under the age of 18 are now prohibited, as are free samples and sales in vending machines in non-adult only areas.

The long-term health implications of vaping aren’t yet known although early reports have found high levels of chemicals such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde in e-cig liquids, both of which have been linked to cancer.

The FDA is using a staggered timeline for enforcement that will allow manufacturers to continue to sell their products for up to two years while they submit (and an additional year while the FDA reveiws) a new tobacco product application.

Senators Ask FCC To Investigate High Cable Prices

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Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., have asked the Federal Communications Commission to investigate big cable and broadband providers for pushing consumers to pay “ridiculous prices” for services.

Addressed to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, the senators wrote that due to a number of mega-mergers, only 37 percent of Americans “have more than one option for high-speed broadband providers.” The limited options means that companies are able “to charge ridiculous prices and add hidden fees. Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Al Franken, D-Minn., also joined Sanders and Warren in writing the letter.

The FCC is required to keep track of how much telecommunications firms charge consumers, the senators requested that Wheeler hand over the information regarding how much Americans pay on average for Internet and cable services, including averages based on state and company. The senators also want to know how much urban Americans pay compared to rural Americans. Sanders said that “Currently, America ranks 25th worldwide for broadband speed, and we pay more for poorer quality broadband than customers in Slovakia Estonia, South Korea, and the U.K.”

The letter comes at a time when the FCC is considering the merger between Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications, which the senators say would only exacerbate the problem. Recent increases in the price of Time Warner services indicates that the company is already insulated from normal market pressures, the senators say. They cited Time Warner’s modem rental charges increasing by 203 percent since they were introduced in 2012.

Policy Makers Still Trying To Understand “The Internet Of Things” or IoT

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Legislators are still holding hearings on the Internet of Things. A resolution was passed by the Senate however privacy and security was not mentioned.  The Federal Trade Commission, the primary regulator entrusted with protection the privacy of consumers in the United States, published a lengthy report on the privacy and security of the Internet of Things that recommended Congress hold off on passing legislation specifically focused on the area.

Peek A Boo -They Hear You

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June 1, Section 215 of the Patriot Act will expire unless reauthorized by Congress. Section 215 is the authority, claimed by the NSA (National Security Agency) since 2006, that allows the government to collect and store mass phone metadata.

Metadata is essentially describes or summarizes other data. When pieced together, metadata can show, in great detail, what a person is saying or doing. With cellphones, they can not only track who you talk to, but where you go. Obtained documents and interviews with intelligence officials reveal that the NSA gathers nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world.

Over the past month, Republican leaders of the House Intelligence Committee had closed door meetings between Congressional members and national intelligence representatives.

The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said if metadata  is taken away and some untoward incident happens that could have been thwarted he hopes that everyone involved in that decision will assume responsibility.

A new bill brought to the floor of Senate by McConnell proposes extending the Patriot Act and, by extension, the surveillance capabilities of the National Security Agency — specifically, the ability to collect phone data from millions of Americans under the guise of monitoring terrorist activity. The bill is co-sponsored by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman and North Carolina republican Richard Burr.

The bill comes two years after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the capabilities of the organization, delving into the spying methods of the U.S. government. Information continues to be released, and President Barack Obama has publicly called for an end to NSA’s data collection. The program is capable of collecting dialed numbers, as well as the time and date of call.

McConnell and Burr have invoked a Senate rule in filing the bill that allows them to bring the legislation straight to the floor of the senate, bypassing the standard vetting process done by senate committees. However, no date has been set for consideration.

 

 

California lawmaker introduces Legislation For Public Libraries & 3D Printing

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Rep. Nora Campos, D-San Jose, introduced AB 37 which if passed would require the Department of Justice to produce warning signs about the misuse of 3D printing and distribute them to every public library that offers the technology.

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FCC Plans To Vote On Net Neutrality

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FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler plans to introduce proposed Net neutrality regulations in February.

On Friday, the Federal Communications Commission  said that federal regulators intend to place restrictions on how Internet providers manage their Web traffic. They plan to vote on new guidelines in February. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler intends to introduce the proposed regulations in February for a vote the same month, a spokeswoman for the commission confirmed, following an initial report from The Washington Post. The agency’s monthly meeting is scheduled for February 26.

The proposal is at the center of a debate around the concept of Net neutrality. That notion holds that all online traffic should be treated the same by Internet-access providers, with no sites or services being given preferential treatment.

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