When you realize that the CIA (and NSA and FBI) are not under the power of the President or Congress, then you will begin to understand how things work.
Enraged by the lies and spin offered in response to recent disclosures of massive domestic spying, former NSA official Russell Tice blows his whistle again in this exclusive Boiling Frogs interview, co-hosted with Sibel Edmonds. Please share this podcast widely, and download it to ensure that it doesn’t somehow disappear.Tice makes numerous stunning disclosures in this interview, partly in reaction to the misleading statements from Obama, NSA chief Alexander, FBI boss Mueller and Congressional leaders who defend the programs that were confirmed by the recent leaks from Ed Snowden.
Tice is deeply concerned that his former agency has gone “rogue”, that Gen. Keith Alexander wields the power to blackmail as J. Edgar Hoover once did, and that hundreds of key people in government, the courts, business and political activism have been targeted for wiretapping and other surveillance. He names names.
He responds to the unsigned FISA Court ruling against Yahoo that dismissed 4th amendment issues and asserted that there have been no abuses. Tice knows of real abuses, and tells quite a bit.
We talk about cyberwarfare, and the NSA’s ability to originate cyber attacks but make it look like they came from China or Iran. Tice declines to comment on PRISM, as he considers it a lawful foreign intel program, but has plenty to say about the collection of phone records and the collection and retention of all of our phone calls.
Tice explains in detail how the National Security Agency targets, sucks-in, stores and analyzes illegally obtained content from the masses in the United States. He contradicts officials and the mainstream media on the status of the NSA’s Utah facility, which is already operating and “On-Line.” He reveals the NSA as a Deep State that targets and wiretaps US political candidates for its own purposes.
Hundreds of jubilant gay-rights advocates celebrated at New Zealand’s Parliament as the country became the 13th in the world – and the first in the Asia-Pacific region – to legalise same-sex marriage.
Lawmakers voted 77 to 44 in favour of the gay-marriage Bill on its third and final reading. People watching from the public gallery broke into song after the result was announced, singing the New Zealand love song “Pokarekare Ana” in the indigenous Maori language.
“For us, we can now feel equal to everyone else,” said Tania Penafiel Bermudez, a bank teller who said she already considers herself married to her partner Sonja Fry, but now can get a certificate to prove it.
In one of several speeches that ended in a standing ovation, Bill sponsor Louisa Wall told lawmakers the change was “our road toward healing”.
“In our society, the meaning of marriage is universal – it’s a declaration of love and commitment to a special person,” she said.
Lawmakers from most political parties were encouraged by their leaders to vote as their conscience dictated rather than along party lines. Although Ms Wall is from the opposition Labour Party, the Bill was also supported by centre-right Prime Minister John Key.
He said: “In my view, marriage is a very personal thing between two individuals. This is part of equality in modern-day New Zealand.”
'Cause if teh gheys get the right to marry then straight Christian people, especially bigots, will be second-class citizens.
Fox News radio host Todd Starnes says that the push for equal rights for LGBT people is making Christians who believe in the “Biblical definition of marriage” into “second-class citizens.”
During a Monday interview with conservative radio host Sandy Rios, the often-outraged Starnes reacted to the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court could rule in favor of marriage equality.
“What concerns me, though, Sandy, is the vitriol coming from those who support gay marriage,” Starnes declared. “You know, I’m the kind of person that is more than happy to sit down and talk and debate and listen to what people have to say. I may not agree with it, but at least, you know, it’s their right to have their opinion under our Constitution.”
“And yet, there seems to be this opinion on the other side that says, you know what, you and I don’t deserve the same rights,” he opined. “You know, it’s as if we’re second-class citizens now because we support the traditional, Biblical definition of marriage or perhaps we are pro-life, and that means we’re somehow second-class citizens who don’t deserve to be in the public marketplace of ideas.”
Rios predicted that it would be even “worse than that” if the the court decided to legalize same sex marriage.
“You know there’s going to be punishment,” she said. “There will be tremendous punishment.”
“If gay marriage is embraced by the country, if the Supreme Court goes south this week in its hearings, we are in for –- of course, we’re not going to hear about it until June -– but we are in for persecution like we have never seen it.”
“Well, it’s already started,” Starnes agreed.
After President Barack Obama announced his support for marriage equality last year, the Fox News radio host had declared that a shift in public opinion was taking place because public schools were “indoctrination centers” for LGBT rights.
An effort is building in Congress to change U.S. marijuana laws, including moves to legalize the industrial production of hemp and establish a hefty federal pot tax.
While passage this year could be a longshot, lawmakers from both parties have been quietly working on several bills, the first of which Democratic Reps. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Jared Polis of Colorado plan to introduce Tuesday, Blumenauer told The Associated Press.
Polis’ measure would regulate marijuana the way the federal government handles alcohol: In states that legalize pot, growers would have to obtain a federal permit. Oversight of marijuana would be removed from the Drug Enforcement Administration and given to the newly renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana and Firearms, and it would remain illegal to bring marijuana from a state where it’s legal to one where it isn’t.
The bill is based on a legalization measure previously pushed by former Reps. Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Ron Paul of Texas.
Blumenauer’s bill would create a federal marijuana excise tax of 50 percent on the “first sale” of marijuana — typically, from a grower to a processor or retailer. It also would tax pot producers or importers $1,000 annually and other marijuana businesses $500.
His office said Monday it doesn’t yet have an estimate of how much the taxes might bring in. But a policy paper Blumenauer and Polis are releasing this week suggests, based on admittedly vague estimates, that a federal tax of $50 per ounce could raise $20 billion a year. They call for directing the money to law enforcement, substance abuse treatment and the national debt.
Last fall’s votes in Colorado and Washington state to legalize recreational marijuana should push Congress to end the 75-year federal pot prohibition, Blumenauer said.
Washington state officials have estimated that its legal marijuana market could bring in about half a billion dollars a year in state taxes.
“You folks in Washington and my friends in Colorado really upset the apple cart,” Blumenauer said. “We’re still arresting two-thirds of a million people for use of a substance that a majority feel should be legal. … It’s past time for us to step in and try to sort this stuff out.”
Advocates who are working with the lawmakers acknowledge it could take years for any changes to get through Congress, but they’re encouraged by recent developments. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell last week came out in support of efforts to legalize hemp in his home state of Kentucky, and U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., is expected to introduce legislation allowing states to set their own policy on marijuana.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has indicated he plans to hold a hearing on the conflict between state and federal marijuana laws and has urged an end to federal “mandatory minimum” sentences that lead to long prison stints for drug crimes.
“We’re seeing enormous political momentum to undo the drug war failings of the past 40 years,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, who has been working with lawmakers on marijuana-related bills. “For the first time, the wind is behind our back.”
The Justice Department hasn’t said how it plans to respond to the votes in Washington and Colorado. It could sue to block the states from issuing licenses to marijuana growers, processors and retail stores, on the grounds that doing so would conflict with federal drug law.
Blumenauer and Polis’ paper urges a number of changes, including altering tax codes to let marijuana dispensaries deduct business expenses on federal taxes, and making it easier for marijuana-related businesses to get bank accounts. Many operate on a cash basis because federally insured banks won’t work with them, they noted.
Blumenauer said he expects to introduce the tax-code legislation as well as a bill that would reschedule marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act, allowing states to enact medical marijuana laws without fear that federal authorities will continue raiding dispensaries or prosecuting providers. It makes no sense that marijuana is a Schedule I drug, in the same category as heroin and a more restrictive category than cocaine, Blumenauer said.
The measures have little chance of passing, said Kevin Sabet, a former White House drug policy adviser. Sabet recently joined former Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy and former President George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum in forming a group called Project SAM — for “smart approaches to marijuana” — to counter the growing legalization movement. Sabet noted that previous federal legalization measures have always failed.
“These are really extreme solutions to the marijuana problem we have in this country,” Sabet said. “The marijuana problem we have is a problem of addiction among kids, and stigma of people who have a criminal record for marijuana crimes.
“There are a lot more people in Congress who think that marijuana should be illegal but treated as a public health problem, than think it should be legal.”
Project SAM suggests people shouldn’t get criminal records for small-time marijuana offenses, but instead could face probation or treatment.
I was glad to come across this article on the D.C. Circuit's recent ruling that Obama's recess appointments were unconstitutional. If you're interested in the subject at all feel free to read it. The coverage has been pretty dreadful. It's not decided law in that the Circuit's decision is in direct contradiction of an Eleventh Circuit decision and seems to be in contradiction of several hundred years of law. Recent Presidents of both parties since Reagan have used recess appointments, so the recent decent is even more suspect.
Also suspect is Representative Louis Gohmert from Texas who has called on President Obama's former students in law school to form a class action lawsuit against him. Considering that Gohmert spent years as a judge in Texas he is either dreadfully unfamiliar with the law himself or he is being hypocritical. I'm guessing the latter.
An Eagan lawyer is suspended indefinitely after having an affair with a client whom he represented in a divorce, then billing her for time they spent having sex.
Thomas P. Lowe, 58, won't have a chance for reinstatement for at least a year and three months after the decision, filed Thursday, Jan. 10, by the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Lowe, an attorney since 1985, had known the client for many years. Both are from Valley City, N.D. The woman met with Lowe in August 2011 to discuss pursuing a divorce from her husband.
He agreed to represent her. During a phone call days later, Lowe asked about her sexual relationship with her husband, commented on her appearance and asked if she was interested in sex with him.
The following month, they began an affair that lasted until March. At various points, Lowe billed the woman for legal services on the dates of their sexual encounters, coding the time as meetings or drafting memos.
In March, after several arguments with the woman about the affair and his own marriage, Lowe said he was breaking things off. Two days later, he said he was withdrawing as her attorney.
That day, the woman, who was considered vulnerable because of past abuse and mental health treatment, tried to kill herself. While hospitalized, she disclosed the affair.
The Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility brought the petition against Lowe in July. He initially denied much of it, but now "unconditionally admits the allegations," according to court filings. A man who answered the phone at Lowe's office Monday said Lowe was unavailable.
In addition to a few previous citations for issues of decorum, Lowe was placed on probation in 1997 for using cocaine and being involved in purchasing the drug from a client.
Now you can say "woof" to a dog without being charged with insulting speech. Really.
Home secretary Theresa May said the Government will accept a House of Lords amendment to remove the word 'insulting’ from Section 5 of the Public Order Act.
The amendment had been promoted in the House of Lords by Lord Dear, a former HM Inspector of Constabulary.
Six years ago police tried to prosecute Oxford student Sam Brown after he said to a mounted officer: “Excuse me, do you realise your horse is gay?"
Mr Brown, who made the comment during a night out with friends in Oxford after his final exams, was arrested under section 5 of the Public Order Act for making homophobic remarks.
However, after he refused to pay a £80 fine, the Crown Prosecution Service declined to pursue the case.
The following year Kyle Little, a 16-year-old from Newcastle, was fined £50 with £150 costs for saying “woof” to a Labrador dog in front of police officers.
Eventually the magistrates’ decision was overturned by a crown court. He had been arrested and charged under the Public Order legislation.
The amendment had been pushed for by comedian Rowan Atkinson who had warned that criticism, unfavourable comparison or “merely stating an alternative point of view” could be interpreted as an insult and lead to arrest.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph last month, Lord Dear, said that the law had “no place in our country” because the law was being “used to undermine free speech because of the way it is framed”.
Last month House of Lords vote saw peers vote overwhelmingly by 150 to 54 in favour of the change. Campaigners welcomed the change. Simon Calvert, Reform Section 5 campaign director, said he was “very pleased” by the Government’s statement.
He said: “This is a victory for free speech. People of all shades of opinion have suffered at the hands of Section 5.
“By accepting the Lords amendment to reform it the Government has managed to please the widest possible cross-section of society. They have done the right thing and we congratulate them.”
A ComRes poll commissioned last year by the RS5 campaign showed that 62 per cent of MPs believed it should not be the business of government to outlaw “insults.”
No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.
-- Article I, Section 10, Constitution of the United States
No, I didn’t post this to highlight the prohibition against states’ granting any title of nobility. I posted it to highlight the prohibition against states’ enacting a law impairing the obligation of contracts—which the Supreme Court has interpreted as a guarantee of the right to freely enter into contracts.
That guarantee does have exceptions, of course, none of which includes the type of contract that state so-called ‘right to work’ laws bar. Including the ones passed today by the Michigan legislature, after springing out of nowhere last week. (Although maybe the proponents of these laws think these statutes come within this exception created by the current Supreme Court’s majority: any law that helps corporations is constitutional. It’s a corollary to the majority’s maxim that any federal statute, such as ones concerning compelled contractual arbitration, or labor unions, or federal-court jurisdiction, be distorted beyond plausible recognition of the statute’s actual language, if necessary, to favor corporations. This is known by them as “originalism” and “textualism.” And known by others, not all of whom are justices, as cute, pick-and-choose gimmickry.)
But as Slate’s Matthew Yglesias points out today, what these bills do is use the force of law—state law—to interfere with the right of contract between two private parties: labor unions and private employers. In Michigan, the legislature actually passed two separate laws today: one pertaining to labor contracts between labor unions and private employers, the other pertaining to contracts between labor unions and public employers (i.e., state and local governments). But as a constitutional matter, this doesn’t matter.
Yglesias points out what does matter, although he argues it only as a matter of hypocrisy, not as a possible violation of constitutional law. After saying that the concrete economic impact of these statutes is murky—something that Paul Krugman and most Angry Bears would dispute (and have disputed)—he hits the nail on the head about the actual nature of these laws:
[What is] not murky is the absurd hypocrisy that has to go into making the case for right-to-work legislation.
The way this works is that if there's a labor union at a given business establishment that's bargaining for some higher pay or benefits or better work-rules or whatever it's rapidly going to find that there's a free rider problem. Everyone in the relevant class of workers gets the benefits whether or not they join the union. So something the union is often going to want to bargain for is some kind of rule stating that everyone hired in the relevant class has to join the union, or has to pay dues to the union, or something else along those lines.
Now naturally an employer's not going to want to agree to that. But he's not going to want to agree to higher pay or more vacation days either. That's why it's a negotiation. A right-to-work law is a law banning employers from making that concession.
The impact, obviously, is to make it hard to form strong unions in a given jurisdiction and thus make it a more business-friendly jurisdiction. But note that this same trick works across the board. You could just ban pay raises in general. Any one firm, after all, faces a dilemma. On the one hand it would be more profitable to pay people less. On the other hand, it's also unprofitable to have everyone quit to go work for some other higher-paying company. So a law against pay raises would make everyone more profitable, spurring crazy business investment and job creation. Except nobody does that because it would be (a) insane and (b) obviously unfair. And yet the proponents of right-to-work laws are generally exactly the people most inclined to stand up for freedom of contract under other circumstances.
And yet the proponents of right-to-work laws are generally exactly the people most inclined to stand up for freedom of contract under other circumstances, indeed. They do this standing up in legislatures, think tanks, and lobbying firms. And in court, including the Supreme one. Some of them doing this standing from the black-robes-wearing, comfortable-leather-chair-sitting side of the courtroom bench.
Now that the gantlet has been thrown, labor should pick it up and take it to court. There is, I think, little doubt that these laws impair the obligation of current labor contracts and also impinge upon the right to freely enter into contracts. The proponents of these laws will defend them on the ground that state laws impairing the obligation of this particular type of contract isn’t what the framers had in mind. And undoubtedly they’re right; it’s a historical fact that the Washington, Madison, and the others considered union organizing right up there with sodomy and murder as unprotected by the Fourteenth Amendment, which they foresaw would be added to the Constitution a few decades later, or by the clause in Article 1, Section 10, prohibiting states from impairing the obligation of contracts.
But labor unions still should challenge the constitutionality of these laws, even if they have to try to convince the courts, and eventually the Court, that the laws areLetters of Marque and Reprisal.
Which, at least regarding the Reprisal part, sounds about right.
Italy's highest appeals court has upheld guilty verdicts on 23 Americans, all but one of them CIA agents, accused of kidnapping a terror suspect.
Their case related to the abduction of an Egyptian cleric in Milan in 2003.
The man, known as Abu Omar, was allegedly flown to Egypt and tortured.
The Americans were tried in absentia, in the first trial involving extraordinary rendition, the CIA's practice of transferring suspects to countries where torture is permitted.
The practice has been condemned by human rights groups as a violation of international agreements.
The group of Americans - 22 of whom were CIA agents and one an Air Force pilot - are believed to be living in the US and are unlikely to serve their sentences.
Italy has never requested their extradition but they will be unable to travel to Europe without risking arrest.
The group include the former station chief of CIA operations in Milan, Robert Seldon Lady.
At the time, he said that his opposition to the proposal to kidnap the imam was overruled.
The court upheld the sentences of the lower court which had sentenced all of them to seven years in prison, apart from Seldon Lady, who was given a nine-year sentence.
The Court of Cassation also ruled that five senior Italian secret service agents - including the former head of the country's military intelligence agency - should be tried for their role in the kidnapping.
Nicolo Pollari resigned over the affair in which Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, an Egyptian imam also known as Abu Omar, was snatched from a Milan street.
Abu Omar says he was tortured for seven months in Egypt.