Victim today, perp tomorrow? And, another case for strict privacy protection

by Vivian Diep in February 25th, 2022
data report

Increasing shareholders share of voice

Fri Feb 11

What does it take to be “invested” in a company? Depends on who you ask. In case you missed it, one of the major Trump-era changes was limiting which shareholders can submit proposals to the companies they own shares in — though that’s about to change.

  • For roughly 80 years, the SEC has allowed shareholders with at least a $2,000 stake in the corporation to present proposals to it for (non-legally binding) action. The process is involved, requires articulating a specific course of action, and often has legal fees associated with submission.
  • However, the Trump administration raised this minimum to $25,000 to reduce the number of proposals, which they called burdensome to corporations who have to review and put up for voting. Opponents said this was Wall Street preventing proposals related to environment, social, and governance issues — in 2021 alone social-related shareholder proposals rose 37% and environmental 13%.
  • Now, not only is the SEC rescinding those policies but also removing certain grounds for dismissal of proposals regarding social issues. In the past, they have often been excluded from voting on the grounds of relevance to the business or micromanagement of the corporation.

Ultimately, such proposals nudge corporations towards thinking beyond next quarter earnings by forcing decision makers in the company to dedicate time to long-term issues shareholders can see. While we wait for the full effect of this change to be seen, learn how and where to submit a proposal for yourself.

DNA gathered from assault victims later used to incriminate them

Tue Feb 15

Not sure why some people are comfortable sharing their DNA while others are starkly opposed? Today’s story helps us understand the latter. Turns out, San Francisco’s police has been using victims’ DNA from their rape kits to pin separate, unrelated crimes on them. For example, one woman was recently arrested for a property crime based on a match found through DNA she provided years ago as a victim in a domestic violence and sexual abuse case.

This usage is a direct violation of consent, as the woman only permitted DNA use for evidence in their assault cases. While the police chief denies his department used DNA from the rape kits, the district attorney’s office says otherwise. The DA’s office claims SF police have been using DNA from rape kits as a standard practice dating back to 2015, and have now kicked off a formal investigation.

Many are worried this use of rape kits will discourage other women from coming forward about their assault cases, knowing it could end up incriminating them later. Already, roughly 70% of sexual assaults go unreported. Others point out that thousands of rape kits sit untested for years but suddenly get discovered when the DNA from them is valuable for another purpose. One rape kit from 1995 went untested for 17 years, during which the assailant assaulted at least 21 others before being convicted in 2006.

Now, the district attorney is pushing for statewide legislation to make the practice illegal altogether. In the meantime, the charges against the aforementioned woman have been dropped for violation of the fourth amendment (which protects Americans from unreasonable search and seizure).

Below the Fold Bytes

COVID In-air-itance at Schools

When school districts got $190 billion in federal COVID relief money, they sought to make sure they could get the most bang for such an unexpected buck. Many schools decided that this meant major HVAC upgrades, much needed renovations, and building expansion. And while the chosen improvements will undoubtedly improve health and safety, they won’t be complete for years (the COVID relief funds were intended for more immediate use to benefit current students). Still, many of the updates are long overdue. So is this a “misuse” of funds or are we just feeling guilty over letting our schools fall into such maintenance backlogs? >> Read More

A rose (pig) by any other name?

Should a completely vegetarian product qualify for kosher and halal certification? The makers of a plant-based pork were hoping so, but were later turned down because of the product name including “pork” in it. Why? While alternative meat companies have had other “meat” products certified, such as beef and even cell-cultured burgers, pork is a sticky situation wrapped up in religion, culture, and marketing. What does it mean to be certified kosher or halal? What are the larger goals of religious dietary restrictions? And how important is a certification? For some non-religious eaters, these certifications are trusted above a brand’s own claims, for instance, of being “dairy-free.” >> Read More

🎬 Action of the Week

There are hundreds of thousands of rape kits that have yet to be tested. While there’s no central source for them all, End the Backlog has worked to find as many as they can and categorize them by state. Use their map to see how many backlogged rape kits exist in your state and urge your local leaders to prioritize testing them.


ASCII-ing About the News

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Why is the math department so happy about the use of funds?

It solves one of their problems!

Art Credit: LDB

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