Climate Change May Mean A Bleak Future For Today’s St. Louis Kids

 

 On Friday some in St. Louis took part in the global climate strike: Hundreds of people took to the streets of downtown St. Louis to protest the failure of politicians and special interests to act despite mounting evidence of climate change’s accelerating and potentially devastating effect on life on the …

Sunday Poll: Are We Too Soft On Crime?

 

 Last week Missouri Governor Mike Parsons was back in St. Louis, announcing the state’s new commitment to help reduce violence in the St. Louis region. Starting Oct. 1, 25 Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers will be deployed in a variety of roles throughout the city. Six of them, along with …

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 15 of 2019-2020 Session

 

 The St. Louis Board of Aldermen meet at 10am today, their 15th meeting of the 2019-2020 session. As previously noted, they have the first two meetings labeled as Week #1, so they list this as week/meeting 14. Today’s agenda includes five (5) new bills. B.B. #108 – Middlebrook – An ordinance recommended …

Readers Either Neutral or Feel Less Safe Around Open Carry

 

 To many people the presence of a firearm makes them feel less safe.  Some research indicates it isn’t just a feeling — they’re less safe! Does carrying a gun make you safer? Does it make other people safer? Millions of Americans who pack heat think so, and 33 states with …

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More Secure EMV Chip Readers Lacking at the Pump, Parking Meter, Metro Ticket Machines, ATMs, ETC.

June 12, 2019 Featured Comments Off on More Secure EMV Chip Readers Lacking at the Pump, Parking Meter, Metro Ticket Machines, ATMs, ETC.
 

Credit cards have changed a lot in my lifetime. The magnetic stripe didn’t appear on the backs of cards until the 80s. My first credit card, for department store Montgomery Ward, didn’t have a magnetic stripe at all. Before the magnetic stripe was days before merchants & banks learned of fraudulent sales.

In 1970, the credit card’s magnetic stripe had its first big test when it was rolled out in a joint pilot project by American Express, American Airlines and IBM at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. IBM accepted the team’s recommendation to adopt the technology in 1973, and it rolled out bank cards and employee ID cards.

However, it wasn’t until 1980 that the price of the technology became acceptable to Visa and MasterCard, Svigals says. The original cards cost about $2 per card to produce, he says, but with economies of scale and improved production methods, they came down in price and cost less than 5 cents per card to produce just before MasterCard and Visa came on board.

Now a swipe of a credit card or debit card in an electronic reader sends the customer’s information to the bank that issued the card. The bank’s computers verify that the cardholder has sufficient credit or funds to cover the purchase and can either approve the request or decline — all within seconds. (CreditCards.com)

When I began working at Toys ‘R’ Us in 1983 we could swipe the card’s magnetic stripe to get an approval, but we still had to make an impression of the card to write the approval number on. All these impressions were guarded like cash, submitted daily with bank deposits.

Criminals got better at creating fake cards with stolen magnetic stripe information. Rather than wait for the government to step in, card issuers decided to switch to the EMV chip cards already in use in the rest of the world. This began almost 4 years ago:

Before October 1, 2015, any time a consumer’s credit card was duplicated and used for purchases, the bank would refund the fraudulent purchase to the store, with the understanding that the bank could have done more to prevent the fraudulent transaction from occurring. This created an incentive for the bank to verify the cardholder’s identity.

Starting October 1, 2015, that liability for fraud shifts from the bank to the store in cases where the bank has provided an EMV credit card but the store has not upgraded to an EMV terminal. The logic behind this is that the credit card issuer did everything in its power to protect the consumer, and the store ultimately dropped the ball, so to speak. This creates the incentive for both the bank and the store to upgrade to EMV — so the bank can avoid refunding fraudulent transactions and the store can avoid losing money on fraudulent transactions. If neither the credit card nor the store is EMV-ready, then the traditional liability rules apply. (NerdWallet)

It is important to note the end user isn’t responsible for fraud — this is a shift from bank to retailer accepting cards. Most stores have upgraded their equipment by now, longer deadlines were set for other transactions.  Pay at the pump, for example.  From December 2016:

Citing technological and regulatory challenges, Visa, MasterCard and American Express recently announced that the U.S. deadline for installing EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) chip-card readers at automated fuel pumps has been extended to Oct.1, 2020 from Oct. 1, 2017.

More than 1.7 million merchants—or about one-third of all U.S. stores—now accept chip cards, and the nation has already seen a 43% reduction in counterfeit-card fraud among merchants using chip technology, according to Visa. However, selling fuel comes with a complex set of challenges, and gasoline retailers need more time to make the mandated upgrades.

Companies now have three more years to migrate from traditional magnetic stripe-based payment card scanners to chip readers before they would incur any financial liability for fraud perpetrated at the point of sale (POS).

The new liability shift deadline for gas pumps is a little over a year away. My husband pumps the gas in our car, but I’ve had him looking for EMV pumps for a couple of  years now. To our knowledge none exist in the St. Louis region.

One of St. Louis’ newest gas stations, ZOOM Gas on Tucker, doesn’t have an EMV chip reader. However, it is NFC enabled for mobile payment.

When shopping I prefer using ApplePay rather than a physical card, but I frequently have to get out my wallet to retrieve a physical card. When I do I hope there’s an EMV chip reader — I don’t trust magnetic stripe readers — these could contain a skimmer.

All our parking meters accept credit cards now, but none read the secure EMV chip.
I’ve yet to see an ATM with an EMV chip reader.
In Chicago this past weekend we ate one meal at a national chain — they’d taped over the EMV chip reader on the end of their equipment! Yes, I’ve complained to the company.
Metro’s ticket machines at MetroLink stations lack EMV chip readers.

Eventually our cards will no longer have the magnetic stripe and we’ll enter a PIN to verify transactions — like the rest of the world does.

While many of us are ready to go completely mobile, many prefer physical cards. Our POS infrastructure has to change with the EMV replacing magnetic stripe.

In the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll most correctly think the EMV is more secure than magnetic stripe.

Q: Agree or disagree: The magnetic strip on the back of credit/debit cards is just as secure as the new EMV chip.

  • Strongly agree: 1 [5.26%]
  • Agree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat agree: 0 [0%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 1 [5.26%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Disagree: 6 [31.58%]
  • Strongly disagree: 9 [47.37%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 2 [10.53%]

While I know I won’t be responsible for fraud, the lack of EMV readers at businesses tells me they don’t take issue of security seriously — I don’t like the hassle of getting replacement cards frequently.

— Steve Patterson

Married In East St. Louis Five Years Ago

June 10, 2019 Featured, Metro East, Steve Patterson Comments Off on Married In East St. Louis Five Years Ago
 

Saturday was my 5th wedding anniversary, we spent the weekend in Chicago to celebrate. At the time we got married Missouri recognized same sex marriages performed in other states, but we couldn’t get legally married in Missouri. No problem, we just borrowed the St. Louis skyline as the backdrop. We had a great day and our wedding was inexpensive thanks to borrowed audio equipment and dear friends volunteering to help.  A beautiful wedding need not cost a fortune.

Our wedding was held at 9am at the Malcolm Martin Memorial Park in East St. Louis, Illinois — one of our favorite places.

We posed for a selfie with friend/officiate Chris Reimer (center) during the ceremony.

Chris read an appropriate paragraph from ‘Wild Awake’ by Hilary T. Smith:

“People are like cities: We all have alleys and gardens and secret rooftops and places where daisies sprout between the sidewalk cracks, but most of the time all we let each other see is is a postcard glimpse of a skyline or a polished square. Love lets you find those hidden places in another person, even the ones they didn’t know were there, even the ones they wouldn’t have thought to call beautiful themselves.” 

Friend Jesanka French read a poem she adopted from Edward Monkton’s Lovely Love Story
Friend Dionna Raedeke sang ‘The Very Thought of You’
Here we’re smiling in the back seat of a new friend’s Tesla. She drove us carbon-free from the wedding in East St. Louis to the brunch reception in South St. Louis
Arrived at Bevo Mill

Our guests paid for their own brunch. In the 5 years since our wedding the building was purchased, renovated, reopened as Das Bevo, then closed except for special events. Plans to have a few guest rooms upstairs never materialized, we’d hope to spend the night there on our 5th anniversary.

It amazes me how quickly times goes by.  I’ve lived in St. Louis almost 29 years, this is the 15th year of this blog, it has been over 11 years since my stroke. And something I never thought possible when I was younger — I’ve been legally married for 5 years! Speaking of time passing by quickly, today is my oldest brother’s 69th birthday.

So many great memories of our wedding day, thanks to our friends & family for attending & helping.

— Steve Patterson

One of the songs we played before the ceremony:

Sunday Poll: Do You Think Credit Card Magnetic Strips Are As Secure As EMV Chip Cards?

June 9, 2019 Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Do You Think Credit Card Magnetic Strips Are As Secure As EMV Chip Cards?
 
Please vote below

Chances are good that every credit/debit card in your wallet now has a tiny EMV chip, something none of our cards had a decade ago. If you’re a merchant you’ve likely had to change credit card equipment to allow customers to insert their card rather than just swipe the magnetic strip on the back.

Card companies, like Visa, began requiring chip technology by shifting fraud liability:

Starting October 1, 2015, that liability for fraud shifts from the bank to the store in cases where the bank has provided an EMV credit card but the store has not upgraded to an EMV terminal. The logic behind this is that the credit card issuer did everything in its power to protect the consumer, and the store ultimately dropped the ball, so to speak. This creates the incentive for both the bank and the store to upgrade to EMV — so the bank can avoid refunding fraudulent transactions and the store can avoid losing money on fraudulent transactions. If neither the credit card nor the store is EMV-ready, then the traditional liability rules apply. (NerdWallet)

Our cards here in the US still have magnetic strips on the back, in many cases still there is no chip option — Metro’s ticket machines, for example.

Here’s today’s poll:

This poll will close at 8pm tonight. Wednesday I’ll have the results and more on magnetic strip vs EMV cards.

— Steve Patterson

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 8 of 2019-2020 Session

June 7, 2019 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 8 of 2019-2020 Session
 
St. Louis City Hall

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their  8th meeting of the 2019-2020 session. As noted last week, they have the first two meetings labeled as Week #1, so they list this as week/meeting 7.

Today’s agenda includes six (6) new bills:

  • B.B.#55 – Davis – Redevelopment Plan for 1900-34 Dr. Martin Luther King.
  • B.B.#56 – Davis-An Ordinance recommended and approved by the Airport Commission, the Board of Public Service, and the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, establishing and authorizing a multi-year public work and improvement program at St. Louis Lambert International Airport, which is owned and operated by The City providing for and consisting of capital improvement projects to and for the terminal complexes, concourses, parking facilities and garages, and associated Airport buildings, structures, and facilities, roadways, driveways and environs, Airport runways, taxiways, aprons, ramps, and associated airfield buildings, structures, facilities, and environs, and other associated Airport improvements or programs more fullydescribed on EXHIBIT A, entitled (“PROJECT LIST”) RD.
  • B.B. #57-Davis- An Ordinance recommended and approved by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment authorizing and directing the Director of Airports and the Comptroller, owner and operator of St. Louis Lambert International Airport to enter into and execute the Shared Ride Shuttle Concession Agreement between theCity and Airport Best Taxi Service, LLC, (“Concessionaire”),granting to Concessionaire, certain rights and privileges in connection with the occupancy and use of the Premises, which is defined and more fully described in Article II of the Agreement that was approved by the Airport Commission and isattached hereto as ATTACHMENT “1” and made a part hereof,and its terms are more fully described in Section One of this Ordinance; containing a severability clause; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#58-Ingrassia- An Ordinance, recommended by the Board of Public Service, establishing a public works and improvement project for the I-64 at Jefferson – City Streets Project in the City.
  • B.B.#59-Roddy- An ordinance recommended by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment authorizing and directing the issuance, reissuance and delivery of one or more series of tax increment revenue notes, including (a) increasing the not to exceed principal amount of previously-issued RPA 5 tax increment revenue notes (St. Louis Innovation District/RPA 5 Project), Series B (the “RPA 5 Series B Notes”), from an original aggregateprincipal amount of $2,000,000, plus issuance costs, to an aggregate principal amount not to exceed $7,200,000, plus costs of issuance, for certain Reimbursable Redevelopment Project Costs associated with Redevelopment Project Area 5 of the St. Louis Innovation District Redevelopment Area; and (b) tax increment revenue notes (St. Louis Innovation District/Area-wide Projects), Series 2019 (the “Area-wide Series 2019 Notes”),in an aggregate principal amount not to exceed $42,000,000, plus costs of issuance, for certain Reimbursable Redevelopment Project Costs associated with the Redevelopment Area-wide Projects; authorizing and directing the Mayor and the Comptroller to execute and deliver the Amended and Restated Fourth Supplemental Trust Indenture in connection with the reissuance of the RPA 5 Series B Notes, and to execute and deliver the Seventh Supplemental Trust Indenture in connection with the issuance of the Area-wide Series 2019 Notes; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B. #60-Muhammad-Pursuant to Ordinance 68937, an ordinance authorizing the honorary street name Sarah Tillard Lane, which shall begin at the intersection of San Francisco and North Newstead and run northwest on San Francisco to the intersection of San Francisco and North Taylor.

The meeting begins at 10am, past meetings and a live broadcast can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2019-2020 session — the new bills listed above may not be online right away.

— Steve Patterson

Readers Favor Automatic Expungement of Marijuana Convictions Once Legalized

June 5, 2019 Crime, Drug Policy, Featured, Metro East Comments Off on Readers Favor Automatic Expungement of Marijuana Convictions Once Legalized
 
Most of the recreational marijuana stores we visited in Colorado in 2014 had a separate section for medical marijuana.

Marijuana became illegal largely because Henry Anslinger needed to keep his government job during the Great Depression. Anslinger was appointed the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in 1930, just 3 years before the end of Prohibition on alcohol.

“From the moment he took charge of the bureau, Harry was aware of the weakness of his new position. A war on narcotics alone — cocaine and heroin, outlawed in 1914 — wasn’t enough,” author Johann Hari wrote in his book, “Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs.” “They were used only by a tiny minority, and you couldn’t keep an entire department alive on such small crumbs. He needed more.” 

Consequently, Anslinger made it his mission to rid the U.S. of all drugs — including cannabis. His influence played a major role in the introduction and passage of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which outlawed possessing or selling pot.

Fueled by a handful of 1920s newspaper stories about crazed or violent episodes after marijuana use, Anslinger first claimed that the drug could cause psychosis and eventually insanity. In a radio address, he stated young people are “slaves to this narcotic, continuing addiction until they deteriorate mentally, become insane, turn to violent crime and murder.” 

In particular, he latched on to the story of a young man named Victor Licata, who had hacked his family to death with an ax, supposedly while high on cannabis. It was discovered many years later, however, that Licata had a history of mental illness in his family, and there was no proof he ever used the drug.

The problem was, there was little scientific evidence that supported Anslinger’s claims. He contacted 30 scientists, according to Hari, and 29 told him cannabis was not a dangerous drug. But it was the theory of the single expert who agreed with him that he presented to the public — cannabis was an evil that should be banned — and the press ran with this sensationalized version. (CBS News)

Race was used to get public support behind a new ban:

To understand how we ended up here, it is important to go back to what was happening in the United States in the early 1900’s just after the Mexican Revolution. At this time we saw an influx of immigration from Mexico into states like Texas and Louisiana. Not surprising, these new Americans brought with them their native language, culture and customs. One of these customs was the use of cannabis as a medicine and relaxant.

Mexican immigrants referred to this plant as “marihuana”. While Americans were very familiar with “cannabis” because it was present in almost all tinctures and medicines available at the time, the word “marihuana” was a foreign term. So, when the media began to play on the fears that the public had about these new citizens by falsely spreading claims about the “disruptive Mexicans” with their dangerous native behaviors including marihuana use, the rest of the nation did not know that this “marihuana” was a plant they already had in their medicine cabinets.

The demonization of the cannabis plant was an extension of the demonization of the Mexican immigrants. In an effort to control and keep tabs on these new citizens, El Paso, TX borrowed a play from San Francisco’s playbook, which had outlawed opium decades earlier in an effort to control Chinese immigrants. The idea was to have an excuse to search, detain and deport Mexican immigrants.

That excuse became marijuana.

This method of controlling people by controlling their customs was quite successful, so much so that it became a national strategy for keeping certain populations under the watch and control of the government.

During hearings on marijuana law in the 1930’s, claims were made about marijuana’s ability to cause men of color to become violent and solicit sex from white women. This imagery became the backdrop for the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 which effectively banned its use and sales.

While the Act was ruled unconstitutional years later, it was replaced with the Controlled Substances Act in the 1970’s which established Schedules for ranking substances according to their dangerousness and potential for addiction. Cannabis was placed in the most restrictive category, Schedule I, supposedly as a place holder while then President Nixon commissioned a report to give a final recommendation. (drug policy.org)

OK, the origins were racist — but they still broke the law. They must suffer the consequences of their actions, right? No, there are people who were caught with weed, served their time, but now find it difficult to get a job, housing. We can’t continue to write these people off.

According to The Heritage Foundation, manifest in convicted felons not being able to vote, difficulty getting a job or certification, problems with housing and many more. There are over 46,000 collateral consequences that a person can face at the federal or state level after they are convicted of a crime, leading to problems nearly 70 percent of the time for these people trying to get jobs.

Justice reform advocates say that these problems increase the recidivism of former criminals and encourage a life of crime when they have no options left.

“These extra problems for a person can extraordinarily make their life more difficult in the long term,” Holcombe said. “It’s such a long process that many people don’t know about and don’t have the resources to fix on their own.”

Other advocates point to the fact that taxpayers are having to pay for the over 600,000 people being arrested every year for marijuana crimes and footing a nearly $44 billion dollar bill over more than 30 years. The Drug Policy Alliance also points out that $47 billion dollars are spent a year on the War on Drugs and that nearly 50 percent of those in jail for drug-related crimes are people of color. (Wikileaf)

It’s in society’s interests to erase their records for something now legalized. This will allow them to find work, housing, etc. They might even work in the legal weed business at some level — much better than committing a different crime because all legal options were closed to them.

Most who participated in the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll think records should automatically be expunged.

Q: Agree or disagree: Those who were convicted of marijuana possession should not have their record automatically expunged.

  • Strongly agree: 3 [11.11%]
  • Agree: 3 [11.11%]
  • Somewhat agree: 1 [3.7%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Disagree: 6 [22.22%]
  • Strongly disagree: 14 [51.85%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

Automatic expungement is better than making people file to receive expungement.  I’m very glad Illinois will be doing the right thing.

— Steve Patterson

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