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News Scan

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New Protected Class in SF; Ex Cons:  San Francisco Chronicle writers Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross report that city leaders are considering making it illegal for private employers and landlords to deny a job or an apartment to an ex-convict.  The proposal would also make it illegal to ask a job or apartment applicant if they have been convicted of a felony.  The new rules would not apply to sex offenders and some violent ex-cons. Of course if you cannot ask, how would you find out?  Not surprisingly, the city already has made ex-cons a protected class when it comes to government jobs or housing.  Ross Mirkarimi, a county supervisor and candidate for sheriff noted, "This is a very important discussion on the eve of an immense state prison realignment that's going to return hundreds of prisoners back to San Francisco."   The city has already given protected class status to African Americans, Latinos, gays, transgenders, and people who are disabled and pregnant. 

Facial Profiling:  A new device from BI2 Technologies in MA can scan a photograph of a person's face or iris and match it with a database of people with criminal records.  Wall Street Journal writers Emily Steel and Julia Angwin report that the gadget, which attaches to an iPhone, will be in use by police agencies all across the country by September.  Questions about the legality of snapping someone's picture and running it through a database currently remain unanswered, but it is generally considered legal to take anyone's picture when they are out in public.  Brockton, Mass., Police Chief Wm. Conlon told reporters., "It's just a picture.  If you are out in public, I can take a picture of anybody."  The article notes the privacy advocates are worried about misuse of the new technology. 

Defense Moves to Bar Victim's Husband:  Lawyers representing Joshua Komisarjevsky, the habitual criminal charged with the home invasion murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, are seeking to bar the victims' husband and father from attending the trial.  An Associated Press story reports that defense counsel believes that Dr. William Petit would "unduly influence jurors seated in close proximity to the Petit posse," apparently in reference to spectators who support the victims.  Prosecutors are objecting, noting that Petit has given testimony consistent with what he gave at the earlier trial of Komisarjevsky's accomplice, Steven Hayes, and that, as a victim, he has a right to attend the trial.  The judge's ruling on the request is pending.


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Wither San Francisco.

Is there an inverse relationship between the number of officially protected classes and the viability of a city?

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