Tag Archives: The United States Senate

Want to get Politically Active? There’s an App for That

In the first days of Donald Trump’s presidency the flames of political passion were, and continue to be, intense. People of both political parties are calling for change and make no mistake, no one is completely happy. Black people especially are unhappy with the rehetoric and the people in Trump’s administration. We need to get politically active and make our voice heard. There’s an app for that.

But before we start talking about technology and political activisim we need to identify who our elected representative is, how to contact them and how to influence them.  African-Americans need to speak out, be heard and vote! Get Yo Black Ass Out and Vote!

To determine who is representing you locally, at the state level and in Washington visit CommonCause.org. You can enter you address and find out in seconds who is speaking for you. The information includes their names, phone numbers, web pages and email addresses. You can also check USA.gov. There are numerous websites dedicated to finding this information just search and you shall find.

The best way to get in contact with your elected representative is still a good old fashioned phone call. You can email them, write a letter or you can make an appointment to see them. Its their job to answer you.  The Constitution gives you the right to “Petition the government for redress of issues.” That means your represenative is obligated to answer your questions. Another effective way to make your voice herd is to write to the editor of the local newspaper. Learn more about how to influence your elected representative by visiting the Congressional Management Foundation website.

But if you own a smartphone you can easily contact, track and weigh in on what your representative is doing. The Countable app is a news and information app that allows the user to understand and vote on the bills being considered by their representative. Countable explains the issues in plain english and sends your “Yay” or “Nay” directly to your representative. Countable is free and available for Apple and Android devices.

 

 

Another app for tracking bills is called TrackBill. This app not only follows what is happening in Washington but also in your state capitol. Available for Apple and Android.

 

 

 

Brigade – This app is a combination social media platform and political information resource. You actually take a quiz on the issues that allows the app to profile your stance. It also helps you find you representatives. But keep in mind, like any social media forum, you are going to get a lot of partisan viewpoints. Hey, its politics. Brigade is available for Apple and Android.

 

 

One of the things all black people should focus on is local politics. Remember, these are the issues that affect you directly. Right there in your city, county or neighborhood. OpenStates website helps you accomplish this by using your smartphone position to tell you exactly who to contact about an issue. The site is easy to use and reader-friendly with outlines of local bills that are being considered and one that have been passed.

 

 

We are all looking for a non-partisan answer to the issues that impact us. Its a nice dream but not so easily attainable. But Ballotpedia tries to be that nonpartisan reference guide breaking down the results of elections and providing an overview of bills that are currently being debated. It also provides details about elected representatives for all levels of governmant. The website also can send you email updates. You can find a fact checker on the website as well called “Verbatim.In case you want to check those alternative facts.

Now you know.

Congress Bans Ticket Bots

Courtesy Stuart Miles

Courtesy Stuart Miles

You have asked this question more than once; “How the hell did the concert sell out in five minutes?! Let me answer that question for you, Bots!

Bots are computer programs operated by ‘cyber-scalpers ‘ that buy thousands of tickets in a split second to re-sell them at astronomical mark ups. That is how bots cheat ordinary fans like yourself out of a fair chance to buy tickets.

Ticket bots work by using multiple IP addresses.  Such software, which is illegal in New York state, can bypass a ticket-selling websites’s security measures, such as CAPTCHA. According to the New York Times the secondary ticket market is an $8 billion a year industry.

The House of Representatives and the Senate have  passed the Better Online Ticket Sales Act, or BOTS Act, with rare bipartisan support. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) issued a state from his government website  saying, “These bots have gotten completely out of control and their dominance in the market is denying countless fans access to shows, concerts, and sporting events and driving prices through the roof. With this soon to be new law that will eliminate ‘bots’ and slap hackers with a hefty fine, we can now ensure those who want to attend shows in the future will not have to pay outrageous, unfair prices.”

The BOTS Act makes it illegal to circumvent a ticket sales website’s  security measures. The Federal Trade Commission will be charged with enforcing the law. Critics say bots feed a high-priced resale market that pushes ticket prices out of reach of ordinary consumers, particularly for hot events like the play “Hamilton” or a Beyonce concert. I mean, c’mon! How do you think the play “Hamilton” sold out for the next year? And the price for some a tickets have reached $10,000!  Really?

Here is the catch to a great move by congress. Many ticket bots operate with software and computers located outside the U.S. Because of this enforcement can be difficult. The New York Times reports that European governments are considering governments similar legislation.

Ticket scalping is legal. Companies like StubHub and Ticketmaster are well known ticket re-sellers. And yes, their ticket mark up can reach as high as 50 percent. So the law does not outlaw scalping it outlaws bypassing a website’s security measures. 

Passage of the BOTS Act is the culmination of years of frustration among the public, artists and producers infuriated by ticket hoarding bots that profit from their work while gouging the public. Jeffrey Seller, the lead producer of  the Broadway play “Hamilton,”called scalping “a usurious, parasitic business that only serves to create a new profit center between the artist and the consumer.”

Consider the recent visit by the Pope  to United States. Tickets to the parade were issued for free. But bots managed to gobble up thousands of them and they suddenly appeared on sites like eBay and Craigslist for hundreds of dollars.

Now you know.