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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
Presidents v. The Supreme Court

The recent political chatter about “Obamacare” before the Supreme Court of the United States got a great deal of media attention.  President Obama added fuel to the fire when he declared, “Ultimately, I am confident the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”

For someone who was a law professor those words were absurd.  Even if a bill passed unanimously in the house and senate, it could still be overturned – if the law was in violation of the Constitution.

Michael Miller


By Michael Miller
1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing

Nelson Rockefeller’s nomination for Governor in 1958 was partly an upstate revolt against the continued domination of party affairs by the Nassau Republican organization. Rockefeller was a man who always had bigger fish to fry, and throughout his almost 15 years as governor, he often went out of his way not to step on the toes of the touchy Nassau GOP. That’s why Nassau is the only large New York county without a state office building. Respect the turf.

Just before taking office, Rockefeller announced that State Senator William Hults would be Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, but not until the end of the 1959 legislative session, so that Glen Cove, North Hempstead, Oyster Bay and a sliver of Hempstead wouldn’t lose their Senate representation until 1960.

Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’

The Nassau County district attorney’s (DA) office makes a cameo appearance in Empty Mansions, an incredible book about Huguette Clark (1906-2011), the Manhattan-raised heiress whose generosity and eccentricities were legendary.

Now that Ryan Murphy, a creator of television’s “Glee,” has optioned Empty Mansions’ film rights, I imagine a scrum of top actresses are vying to play Clark.

Coming To Local Skies?

Does the Nassau County Police Department intend to buy robot drones for surveillance? How about your village police department?

The Federal Aviation Administration was compelled last year to release documents about drone authorizations. Legislators in several cities and counties were stunned to find out that their police departments were already using robot drones for surveillance or investigation.

By 2020, 30,000 domestic drones are expected to be zipping around American skies.

It’s not just the government. News Corp. used an md4-1000 “microdrone” to take pictures of disaster areas in North Dakota and Mississippi. On the French Riviera, paparazzi flew one to get photos of Paris Hilton at a beach resort. The advertising pitch: “Wherever the human eye reaches its limits, they are getting used…”

The md4-1000 is about the size of a basketball, with four small propellers that allow it to take off and land vertically and quietly. It’s one of several commercially available drones.

In December, documents revealed that DARPA (the military’s technology development agency) has tested “Gorgon Stare,” which uses up to 12 wide-area cameras to capture video of an entire city. Computers analyze the feeds simultaneously, monitoring everything that happens.

Every Supreme Court nomination invites debate about an implied Right to Privacy in the Constitution. You still have these rights, if you want to live in a forest. You still can say pretty much anything you want in this country. Just understand that someone may be watching and recording.

If there are any phone calls, messages, or files that aren’t being directly collected by our federal government, most corporate conglomerates are happy to hand them over. Verizon and AT&T alone responded to 1.3 million law enforcement requests for cell phone locations and other data in 2011. Your smartphone automatically sends location information back to home base, making 24/7 tracking pretty easy.