by Simon Black
Here’s our weekly roll-up of the most absurd and concerning articles we came across this week from both sides of the Atlantic.
8th grader gets 3-week suspension for picture of airsoft gun
Airsoft guns are toy guns which shoot little plastic BBs.
As long as kids are wearing safety glasses, these guns pose no actual threat of injury. And their painted red plastic tips make it obvious they are toy guns.
They are perfectly legal. So a 14-year-old boy thought nothing of goofing around with his friends, and posting a Snapchat picture which included airsoft guns.
But someone at his school saw the photo and reported it… and school administrators suspended him for the final three weeks of the school year.
The picture was not taken on school property, or during school hours. The school was not mentioned, and there was nothing in the Snaps that could have been construed as a threat.
But apparently someone at the school felt uncomfortable with the picture, and the school decided it had to respond with punishment.
So now perfectly normal behavior outside of school can get you in trouble with the meddling educators.
British Officials consider price controls for vacation
Vacation prices are too high!
And as usual, British parents, politicians, and Teachers Unions think the problem is those greedy corporations.
So they have called on regulators to force vacation providers to lower their prices during school breaks.
They say it is unfair that vacation prices are higher during the summer while everyone is out of school. One sympathetic politician said, “It’s not right that children’s education is being used to exploit hard-working parents in this way.”
Of course, as a spokesman for the travel industry points out, this is simple supply and demand… a lot more people want to take their families on vacation while the kids are out of school.
They suggested staggering school breaks so that demand doesn’t spike so much at one time.
And it doesn’t help that parents can be fined up to £120 if their kids miss class for a vacation while school is in session.
Last year the Department of Education collected £10 million of fines for unexcused absences.
Who are the greedy ones?
FBI and ICE are using state license-photo databases for facial recognition
Every month the FBI conducts about 4,000 facial recognition searches.
In America, your data is supposed to be private, only accessible to law enforcement if they have probable cause to think you have committed a crime.
So you might be surprised to find out that the databases used in these facial recognition checks are full of innocent Americans.
The FBI and Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) have been accessing state Department of Motor Vehicle databases for years, to check a suspect’s photo against countless innocent citizens license photos.
The license holders didn’t consent. The state legislators, governors, and Congress didn’t give them permission.
Usually, all they need is a friendly email to a DMV bureaucrat, and they have access to treasure troves of biometric data.
Including the DMV and other state, local, and federal databases, the FBI has access to over 641 million face photos which they can scan using facial recognition technology.
Amazon is liable for third party items sold on the website
Amazon sells some products directly, but it also provides a platform for other retailers to sell items.
Now an appeals court has ruled that Amazon can be held liable for the millions upon millions of products sold by third parties on its website.
They ruled that Amazon failed to properly warn customers about the dangers of defective products.
In some cases, the actual retailers could not be contacted or identified. And that left no one but Amazon to hold liable for the defective products.
When in doubt, blame the big corporation… even when they have nothing to do with it.
UK Lawmakers scrutinize Amazon investment in food delivery company
The fun never stops for Amazon.
Obviously a huge part of their business is delivery, and Amazon has a history of investing in delivery companies.
But when Amazon bought a minority stake in British food delivery company Deliveroo, regulators pounced.
The government told Amazon to cease any plans to merge operations with the company until they have a chance to scrutinize the transaction.
Even though Amazon does not own a controlling share of the company, the regulators said it is reasonable to believe the two companies will cease to be separate entities.
And apparently that is all the excuse regulators need to intervene in a mutually beneficial and consensual transaction…