Entries in Charles Schumer (13)


Senators Ask Apple to Pull Checkpoint-Dodging Apps

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Smartphone applications that share information about police D.U.I checkpoints and speed traps may be a boon for drivers hoping to avoid tickets (or worse), but a group of U.S. senators says they're nothing but a public safety hazard.

In fact, they think the apps are so dangerous that in a letter to Apple, Research In Motion (which makes BlackBerrys) and Google Tuesday, Senators Harry Reid, D-Nev., Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., and Tom Udall, D-N.M., urged the companies to remove the applications that they say help drunk drivers evade police.

"We know that your companies share our desire to end the scourge of drunk driving and we therefore would ask you to remove these applications from your store unless they are altered to remove the DUI/DWI checkpoint functionality," the letter says.

In the Apple App Store, applications like PhantomAlert, Trapster, iRadar and others claim to help drivers avoid speed traps, police checkpoints and other traffic stops by crowdsourcing the reports of other drivers and disseminating police warnings.

Considering that more than 10,000 Americans die in drunk-driving crashes every year (with one drunk-driving related death every 50 minutes), the senators say that it's a matter of "grave concern" to them that smartphone customers can download the D.U.I.-checkpoint-dodging applications so easily.

In the letter, they cite a recent USA Today article in which a police captain says the popular checkpoint alert apps are troubling.

"If people are going to use those, what other purpose are they going to use them for except to drink and drive?" Capt. Paul Starks of the Montgomery County Police Department told the paper. "They're only thinking of one consequence, and that's being arrested. They're not thinking of ending the lives of other motorists, pedestrians, other passengers in their cars or themselves."

But Joe Scott, CEO and founder of PhantomAlert, a Harrisburg, Pa., company that makes a popular checkpoint alert app for all kinds of smartphones, said he thought the senators' letter was a "knee-jerk reaction."

"If they really understood what we are doing and aim to achieve, they would actually support us," he said. "We're doing exactly what the police departments are doing -- putting up PSAs and letting people know there are checkpoints -- to deter people from drinking and driving," Scott said, adding that the only real difference is that his app shares the information in real-time.

A driver who may have been drinking could look at all the D.U.I. checkpoints highlighted on PhantomAlert's map and decide to take a cab or catch a ride with a friend, he said.

Apple, Research in Motion and Google did not immediately respond to requests from comment from ABC News.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Federal Government Shutdown Debate Heats Up

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The war of words over the looming government shutdown got a lot more heated Tuesday.

It started when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he will try to pass a clean bill to extend federal funding for 30 days when the Senate reconvenes next week, even though House Speaker John Boehner had flatly stated last week that his party would not agree to that.

Republicans have said they will only agree to a bill that cuts spending.

Boehner predictably rejected Reid’s proposal for a short-term solution that maintains spending levels, but conceded that if Reid does not bring House Republicans’ continuing resolution to the Senate floor for a vote, “the House will pass a short-term bill to keep the government running -- one that also cuts spending.”

“Senate Democratic leaders are insisting on a status quo that has left us with a mountain of debt and a stalled economy with unemployment near 10 percent. That is not a credible position,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “Republicans’ goal is to cut spending and reduce the size of government, not to shut it down.”

Democrats have argued that their clean short-term bill would reflect $41 billion in cuts from President Obama’s 2011 budget that was never enacted by Congress. But House Republicans have been steadfast in their pledge to cut $100 billion from the president’s budget request.

Following Boehner’s response Tuesday afternoon, Senate Democrats held a conference call to rip the GOP’s stance, blasting the Speaker of the House for “being misled and pushed around by his conservative freshmen.”

“We’re saying in the meantime we’ll pass a stop-gap measure to stop a government shutdown,” the Senate’s number-three Democrat, Charles Schumer, said. “Now they’re saying even that’s not good enough. They’re saying they don’t want to negotiate on deeper cuts. They want cuts right now on their terms before negotiations take place. How can you say you’re in good faith when you’re saying I want my demands before any negotiations? It’s not an act of good faith. It’s the act of a group that won’t be satisfied with anything less than a shutdown of the government.”

“No one wins from a government shutdown, but for some mind-boggling reason many on their side seem to be rooting for one,” he added.

And just in case there was any doubt that the two sides appear to be growing further apart, not closer together, Reid noted that the two sides have not negotiated “at all” on a new continuing resolution.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Senator Schumer: We Have Votes to Pass Bill for 9/11 First Responders

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- New York Democrat Charles Schumer told ABC News Monday morning that they have the votes to pass the 9/11 first responders bill in the lame duck session.

“We now have the votes, we’ve made some modifications that some of our Republican colleagues requested and if no one does undue delay, just stands up and delays and delays and delays, we will get this done,” the senator said.

Schumer said he has spoken to Speaker Pelosi about keeping the House in session to push through the bill that would provide healthcare to the Ground Zero workers and he pleaded to his colleague to not delay.

“Let it come to a vote and we will win.  The people who rushed to the towers after 9/11, they are our heroes just like veterans, they volunteered and risked their lives for us in a time of war,” he said.  “American tradition is we don’t turn our backs on them no matter what state you’re from and no matter what party you’re from.  And I see in these last moments the Congress coming together along those lines.”

So what took so long?

“First of all, the first several years we didn’t realize the kinds of terrible illnesses people were getting.  And then of course to figure out how to do this exactly right took a while.  The House passed it in September, we’re working on it now,” Schumer said.  “It’s not too late but it will be if we don’t do anything because thousands will die if they didn’t get adequate care.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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